Lacson readies resolution for separate Senate ConAss

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Lacson readies resolution for separate Senate ConAss
Sen. Panfilo Lacson will file a resolution calling on the Senate and the House to convene into separate constituent assemblies.
Ping Lacson Staff / Released

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:34 pm) — Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said on Thursday that he would file a resolution next week that would allow the Senate to convene as a constituent assembly as he stressed that his colleagues prefer the members of the lower and upper house to vote separately.

Speaking in a media forum in the Senate, Lacson expressed his preference that the Senate and the House convene as separate constituent assemblies to protect the upper chamber from being outvoted by the numerically-superior lower house.

"I will file a Senate resolution to constitute the Senate into a constituent assembly as the upper chamber and wait for the lower house to do the same if they wish," Lacson told reporters in a mix of Filipino and English.

"If my resolution is adopted next week to constitute the Senate into a constituent assembly, we can already start our amendments and approve these at least on our level by three-fourths vote," he added.

The senator said that his proposal would preserve the check and balance in Congress, which would be decimated if the two houses would convene as one body.

He said that the public could already see the motives of some solons after some representatives had floated the possibility of postponing the May 2019 elections and extending their terms supposedly to pave the way for a transition period.

"It is better to secure the position of the Senate for us to constitute as a constituent assembly," he said.

Bicameral Conference Committee to resolve differences

Lacson said that any disagreement on the proposed amendments between the House and Senate could be settled in a bicameral conference committee, similar to the process used by lawmakers in passing laws.

The senator who said that he had consulted legal experts such as former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a member of the commission that wrote the current 1987 Constitution, said senators and representatives should approve by separate three-fourths votes the agreed upon amendments in the bicameral conference committee before sending the draft charter to a plebiscite.

"The message is clear: The Senate is separate. That is why the resolution calls on the Senate to be convened as a constituent assembly," Lacson emphasized in explaining his plan to file a Senate resolution separate from Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III's which would have seen the Senate and the House meeting as one body.

He said that Pimentel's resolution, which would call on the Senate to meet with the House as a constituent assembly, could result in senators' being outvoted by the numerically-dominant House.

Lacson also stressed what he said days ago that signing the said resolution would be tantamount to affixing one's signature on the demise of the chamber as an institution.

"If we affix our signatures in that resolution calling on a joint session, it's like a death warrant," he said.

The former chief of the Philippine National Police said that the Senate could form different committees that would work on the different changes to the charter, which was adopted by the country following years of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

He said that the Senate could identify days when it would function as a constituent assembly and when it would serve as the upper house of Congress.

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