By Vanne Terrazola
Senators prefer tackling the proposed Charter change among themselves first rather than going into a joint session with members of the House of Representatives.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III today said he approves the resolution to be filed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson next week which would allow the Senate to transform into a Constitutional Assembly (Con-Ass) to deliberate on the amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
“Wala namang explicit na sinasabi sa Constitution na yung Con-Ass, dapat magkasama kami ng pag-uusap. Pwede naman talaga kaming magconvene ng sarili namin, at yung House nang sarili nila, tapos pwedeng pag-usapan kung anong pagkakaiba, parang bicam (The Constitution does not explicitly say that we should jointly discuss Charter change in the Con-Ass. We can convene ourselves into a Con-Ass, and the House on their own, then we could take up the differences later like in a bicameral conference committee),” Sotto said in a radio interview this afternoon.
Sotto likewise chided those who push joint session as he said Congress, under the Constitution, was mandated to vote jointly only on martial law.
“Kaya tigilan na nila kadedebate sa jointly o separately…yung nagpipilit nun hindi nagbabasa ng Constitution,” he said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, in a separate interview, said senators are one with the stand that Congress should vote separately on Charter change.
“Assuming that the Senate sits as a separate Con-Ass, we will be able to individually vote on issues…If adopted, it (Charter change) can be done like a legislation, that we discuss specific provisions, and then vote on it,” he said in Filipino.
While he supports the amendment of some the provisions in the 1987 Consitution, Trillanes, however, maintained that he will oppose the planned shift to federalism. He reiterated that federalism will only worsen existing “political warlordism” especially in provinces.
Lacson on Thursday said he plans to file a measure which, if adopted, will authorize the Senate’s convening as a Con-Ass, opposing proposals from the House to let Congress sit as one Con-Ass.
Earlier, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel said he is set to file a resolution that will allow both chambers of Congress into one Con-Ass.