Philippines: Senate, House to vote separately on Constitution changes: Pimentel

  • Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on 8 Jan 18 gave his assurance that the Senate and the House of Representatives would be voting separately amid apprehension the smaller upper chamber will be outvoted by the 294-member House of Representatives.
  • Pimentel stated on 8 Jan 18 that he would file this week a resolution that would call on the Senate to sit with the House as a constituent assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution and to adopt a federal form of government.
  • However, some senators fear that they would be outvoted by the House if the two bodies vote jointly. The Duterte administration has control of the majority blocs of both houses of Congress.
  • Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said that Pimentel might not have the support for his resolution unless senators are assured of separate voting in a constituent assembly.
  • According to Lacson, the issue on voting should be settled first before the mode of amending the Constitution is tackled.
  • The 1987 Constitution prescribes three modes of changes or amendments to the charter.
  • Under a constituent assembly, the senators and representatives in congress will act as members of the body which will discuss the proposed changes and amendments. Some senators and congressmen prefer this as this is supposedly a more efficient and cheaper means of altering the country’s basic law.
  • Another mode of changing the Constitution is through a constitutional convention in which delegates from the country’s legislative districts will be elected to work on the changes or amendments to the charter.
  • Finally, modifications to the basic law may also be done by the people through an initiative on a petition signed by at least 12% of the total number of registered voters and in which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters there.
  • Pimentel said on 8 Jan 18 that he is aiming to hold a plebiscite on the new charter simultaneous with the May 19 elections, a year later than the May 2018 target of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

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