The Senate will seek Solicitor General Jose Calida’s opinion on whether the House of Representatives and the Senate should vote on charter amendments jointly or separately, a question that the framers of the 1987 Constitution had missed to settle.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said Calida should give his stand on the matter as the Constitution is silent on whether both Houses will vote on the amendments as one or as separate Chambers.
It has to be answered as amendments are being introduced in the economic provisions of the Charter.
Drilon pointed out that Calida will be facing the Supreme Court if the moves to amend the Constitution is questioned before the High Tribunal.
“I would like to hear the opinion of the Solicitor General because ultimately he will be the one to argue before the Supreme Court and he has often asserted that he is the tribune of the people,” he said.
During the hearing, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Justice said the Senate and the House should vote separately.
Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente also said that both chambers should meet in a joint session but still, they should vote separately as the senators will be outvoted by the 300 congressmen.
This was echoed by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reform which also supports a separate voting process between the bicameral bodies.
Lawyer Christian Monsod, a member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution, admitted that they failed to explicitly state that the two chambers should vote separately. He said this was the original intention of the framers of the Constitution Senate President Vicente Sotto III, on the other hand, said the matter was already resolved, noting the statements of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco that the House also agreed to vote separately on the proposed amendments.