House now working as constituent assembly: solon

MANILAThe House of Representatives is already working as a constituent assembly to propose amendments or revisions to the 1987 Constitution, according to the chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso said the lower chamber is assuming the role of a constituent assembly since the Constitution does not explicitly state the need for both houses of Congress to convene jointly to propose amendments.

"(House Concurrent) Resolution 9 already defines what we are doing to the Constitution," Veloso told reporters when asked if the House is now working as a constituent assembly as Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's draft federal charter reached House plenary Monday afternoon.

In January, the lower chamber adopted House Concurrent Resolution 9, urging Congress to constitute itself as a constituent assembly for the purpose of proposing amendments to, or revision, of the 1987 Constitution. The resolution has been transmitted to the Senate and is still awaiting approval.

"It went to the Senate. Whether or not it has been acted upon, the Constitution does not say that it will become a constituent assembly only if the other House acts on our Resolution No. 9," Veloso said.

"Let's approach it like legislating a statute...The House will do its share, the Senate will do its share. In case of differences, we'll reconcile it at the bicam (bicameral conference committee)," he added.

Resolution of Both Houses No. 15, which proposes revisions to the 1987 Constitution, was sponsored before the plenary of the House of Representatives.

It proposes a presidential-bicameral-federal system of government, and empowers Congress to establish federal states.

The proposal excludes the Vice President from the line of succession in the transitory period to federalism. It puts the Senate President as successor should the position of the President become vacant during the interim.

It also lifts the term limits for members of Congress.

Veloso clarified that the draft federal charter is a two-year product of public consultations and several other drafts proposed by the PDP-Laban, the Consultative Committee, and other legislators.

"Let it be understood that the committee has been working on a proposed revised constitution for about two years now...So it is unfair for anybody to claim that this is designed to address the political concerns of Speaker Arroyo. This is not an Arroyo draft," Veloso said, noting that the only provision the Speaker proposed is the mechanism to create federal states.

Veloso also said designating the Senate President as the President's successor during the transitory would address the "uncertainty" in the vice presidency amid the ongoing electoral protest of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.

"There is really a problem in so far as it is concerned in the vice presidency... Can we submit this republic to that uncertainty?" Veloso said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency