Prudent to elect reps to make Charter change proposals

01:03 AM September 05, 2016

SEN. PANFILO Lacson was absolutely right in warning that the issue of whether or not Congress should vote jointly or separately under the proposed constituent assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution could reach the Supreme Court (Inquirer.net, 8/1/16). Lacson draws rationale from the truly unclear provision of Section 1, Article XVII of the present Charter, to wit: “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) A constitutional convention.” And so, he prefers a constitutional convention whose delegates are to be elected per region.

With all due respect, methinks the good senator has lost sight of the fact that the issue of joint or separate voting by Congress is also unclear with respect to a Charter change proposal via a constitutional convention and could also reach the high tribunal. That is, given Section 3 of the same Article which provides: “The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention or, by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.” Alas, same banana: either mode, by Con-ass or by Con-con, could reach the Supreme Court.


That said, neither, in my humble view, would the newly emerging Charter change mode via a so-called constitutional commission, as alternatively suggested by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, be totally immune from being questioned before the high tribunal. Alvarez seems to recall that the present Constitution was drafted by a commission created by President Cory Aquino, whose members were indeed chosen, not elected, pursuant to her Proclamation No. 9 dated April 23, 1986.

But the situations in Cory’s time were not the same as now. As head of the then revolutionary government, Cory had abolished the Batasang Pambansa and had full legislative powers, including that which had enacted “the law governing the Constitutional Commission of 1986.” More bluntly stated, our present Charter specifically calls for a constitutional “convention,” not “commission”—the basic difference being that members of the former are usually elective, those of the latter, appointive.


It is true that the present Charter does not specifically require the constitutional convention members to be elected. Even so, being the representative of the people vested with the authority to draft the fundamental law of the land, its members have to be popularly voted upon. Well, as we prudently did with respect to both our 1935 and 1971 Charters.


—RUDY L. COLONEL, [email protected]

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TAGS: charter, Con-ass, Con-con, congress, constituent assembly, Constitution, Constitutional Convention, letter, Letter to the Editor, opinion
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