Senate leadership change good for economic Charter reform

THE leadership change in the Senate may be good for the proposed amendment of the Constitution’s restrictive economic provisions, according to veteran lawmaker-lawyer Edcel Lagman of Albay.

“Itong usapin sa Cha-cha ay tapos na sa Mababang Kapulungan (ng Kongreso) and I have said my piece then and it’s always possible that a change of leadership will also enhance the chances of Charter change,” Lagman responded to a reporter’s query during a recent press conference after the House of Representatives approved the divorce bill.

“But let us wait and see. Let the development unfold in the Senate because the House has already approved the Cha-cha resolution,” he said.

He was referring to Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7, the House version of the proposed economic constitutional amendments.

The Senate version, RBH No. 6, authored by former Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara, is still pending in the Senate.

Last Monday, Zubiri resigned as Senate president. Senators elected Francis Escudero as their new leader.

Angara resigned as chairman of the special subcommittee hearing RBH No. 6.

On the issue of joint or separate voting on proposed Charter change, Lagman said, “That issue is not resolved in the Constitution. The Constitution is ambiguous. It is possible that issue of joint or separate voting will go to the Supreme Court for a final decision.”

However, he said the House of Representatives and the Senate have different tasks under the Constitution as a legislature and as a constituent assembly with the power to propose any constitutional amendment.

“Iba ‘yung trabaho ng Kongreso. Sapagkat sa Kongreso, kami ay nagle-legislate ng batas. Iba rin ‘yung trabaho ng constituent assembly na magpropose ng amendments to the Constitution. Kaya duon natin makikita ang pagkaiba. Whether it is joint or separate, palagay ko hindi matatapos ang debate among us. Among senators and congressmen baka umabot sa Korte Suprema,” he said.

But in a forum held in San Juan City last March, Lagman expressed the view that the two chambers of Congress have to meet jointly and vote jointly or as one body on Cha-cha.

“Hindi sila gumagawa ng batas, they are exercising constituent powers, ang pag-amyenda ng Saligang Batas. Ngayon, meeting jointly. Voting jointly ba o separately?  Yan ang isang malaking question na kailangang ma-resolve ng Korte Suprema,” he said.

“Pero sa aking palagay – without any partisanship on the results of voting jointly – eh ang palagay ko voting jointly ito sapagkat unicameral ang constituent assembly, walang senador ‘yan, walang congressman, walang representative, walang Senate,” he added.


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