MANILA, Philippines — With or without the participation of senators, the House of Representatives will convene as a constituent assembly to discuss amendments to the 1987 Constitution, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said.
The House members may even proceed to vote on proposed amendments because their numbers will be enough to comply with the three-fourths vote requirement of the Constitution, Alvarez claimed, apparently standing pat on his assertion that both Chambers of Congress should vote jointly.
“Maghi-hearing muna kami … welcome naman kahit sinong senador na pumunta roon at sumama, at kung hindi naman, hindi namin pipilitin (We will hold hearings fist … any senator is welcome to go and participate, if not, we won’t force them),” he said in an interview over radio dzMM.
Asked if the House would proceed as constituent assembly even without the Senate, he saidL “Opo, ang dulo kasi nito ay isa-satisfy namin kung ano ang requirement ng ating Saligang Batas. Sinabi diyan na three-fourths of all its members, bibilangin natin lahat ng miyembro, kunin natin iyong three-fourths, magbobotohan tayo … para sa amin, complied iyang requirement ng Saligang Batas,” the House leader said.
(Yes, the end result is we satisfy whatever the Constitution requires. It say three-fourths of all its (Congress’) members, we will count all the members, get the three-fourths vote … for us we will have complied with the Constitution’s requirement.)
The House recently adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 9 to convene the House and the Senate into a constituent assembly.
But senators have balked at the proposal, especially after pronouncements from House leaders that voting should be done jointly.
Alvarez insisted the three-fourths vote required by Constitution meant the entire Congress, citing the Constitution, which says, “Congress, by a vote of three-fourths of all its members may amend or revise the Constitution.”
“So para sa akin, malinaw na malinaw ‘yung provision na ‘yun, at wala nang (So for me, that provision is very clear nd there is no) room for interpretation,” he said.
The House leader said any disagreement on the voting should be raised to the Supreme Court.
Alvarez said he would meet with Senate leaders next week to discuss the proposed amendments, saying they need to agree on the structure of government and then “everything else will follow. Wala nang problema, mabilis na ‘yun, madali na ‘yun (No problem, it will be quick after that, it will be easy).”
Southern Leyte Representative Roger Mercado, chairperson of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said he hopes the Senate acts on their call for a constituent assembly “as a courtesy and as a procedure.”
But he said the House could not do anything if the Senate will not adopt a counterpart resolution to convene a constituent assembly.
“We are just following the procedure and the best is to wait and give them the chance to read and study our concurrent resolution,” Mercado said.