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âDrilon, Lacson contradict selves on con-assâ
The senior administration congressman cited the Ateneo Law Journal in which Drilon who had been with every administration in the post-Marcos era, save for the Duterte administration – stated that a bill can be filed in each chamber and amendments discussed.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File photo

‘Drilon, Lacson contradict selves on con-ass’

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senators Franklin Drilon and Panfilo Lacson are apparently contradicting themselves in taking the position that the Senate and the House of Representatives should hold a joint session to convene as a constituent assembly (con-ass) in amending economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, a congressman has said.

Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, over the weekend cited Drilon’s legal opinion in August 1999 and Lacson’s authorship of Senate Resolution 580 in January 2018.

In these separate instances, both had declared there is no need for any joint session, the same position taken by Garbin’s panel which the senators are now criticizing.

The senior administration congressman cited the Ateneo Law Journal in which Drilon who had been with every administration in the post-Marcos era, save for the Duterte administration – stated that a bill can be filed in each chamber and amendments discussed.

“The moment the Senate or the House takes cognizance of such measure, and starts the process of acting on such proposal, then ipso facto (automatically), it starts to exercise the constituent power vested in it by the Constitution,” read a portion of the law journal.

“The senators and congressmen are then no longer acting as legislators, but as component elements of a constituent assembly,” it stated further.

Garbin, of Ako Bicol party-list, lifted the so-called “Drilon Formula” in the 1999 “Edition of Jeep ni Erap” when the senator was justice secretary and acknowledged back then that under the scenario, “Congress can make amendments using the regular lawmaking procedures.”

Garbin said the same goes for Lacson, a non-lawyer and former national police chief, who categorically stated in his Resolution 580 that there is no problem with both houses deliberating separately on charter amendments, thereby seeing no need for a joint session.

“Whereas, said proposition would not in any way diminish the amending process to the nature of an ordinary legislation considering that in the exercise thereof, the members of Congress become a component element of a constituent assembly whose authority is derived from the Constitution,” a portion of Lacson’s three-page resolution read, as cited by Garbin.

Lacson used as basis for his assertion, the legal opinions of Fr. Joaquin Bernas and retired Supreme Court justice Adolf Azcuna, considering that when acting as a constituent assembly, Congress “need not be in a joint session, but may act the way it does on ordinary legislation.”

Garbin, a lawyer by profession, lamented that he has been criticized by both Drilon and Lacson when “this is also the same procedure being taken by the House panel.”

“But both criticized the House panel for the very same formula they espoused,” he said.

Garbin and Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor, who sits as vice chairman in the panel, have repeatedly stated that there will be a separate voting for the Senate and the House as the lower chamber introduces amendments to the prohibitive economic provisions in the charter.

“We will vote separately,” Defensor declared. “The Senate can proceed with their own rules. We will vote separately from the Senate. We will not dilute their powers. If we adopt the same rules, then we will have no problems and sit down and have it approved.”

“We can sit separately and vote separately. Then we can sit on the bicameral conference committee to reconcile our conflicting versions,” the Visayas congressman explained further.

CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
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