By Junex Doronio
MANILA — Insisting that congressmen alone can constitute themselves as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to pursue charter change (Cha-Cha), Ako Bicol party-list Representative Alfredo “Pido” Garbin Jr. on Thursday deliberately ignored the protests of some senators on its legality.
“Every time we deal with proposing amendments or revising the Constitution, we are sitting as a constituent assembly exercising constituent power,” Garbin, a lawyer, answered when Bayan Muna party-list Congressman Carlos Zarate if the committee headed by the Ako Bicol solon was already convening itself as a Con-Ass on Wednesday as they discussed Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH 2).
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said such move sets a “dangerous precedent” as he expressed alarm over Garbin’s pronouncement that the House committee on constitutional amendments, which the latter chairs, was already sitting as a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to tackle on proposed amendments to the “restrictive” economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III also assailed Garbin’s move to exclude the senators.
He explained that a Con-Ass can only be convened when both the House and the Senate sit as one body.
In seeking to address the “restrictive” economic provision in the charter, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco filed RBH 2 in July 2019, to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” into the constitutional provisions on national patrimony and economy; education, science, and technology, arts, culture, and sports.
It also wants to give Congress flexibility to enact laws that would free up the economy to foreign investors.
The Bicolano lawmaker argued that the required three-fourths vote for the Con-Ass will only be applied when the measure is already being voted on third reading, and not in the voting in the committee.
“The three-fourths vote of all members of Congress, voting separately, will only apply on third reading,” Garbin said. (AI/MTVN)