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GMA: No committee hearings on Cha-cha; leave that to Con-Ass.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday directed lawmakers to discuss all proposed amendments to the Constitution during Constituent Assembly and not in committee hearings as she filed resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that both chambers will vote separately.

Arroyo, in an interview, said discussing the amendments to the charter in lower chamber committee hearings is only 'a waste of time' without the senators.

'No committee hearings on the substance. We leave that for the [Con-Ass],' Arroyo told the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso.

Arroyo, in a separate interview, said she has filed a resolution 'expressing the sense of the House' that both chambers will vote separately in a constituent assembly.

However, when asked for a timeline, Arroyo said 'it takes two to tango.'

Arroyo also asked members of the lower chamber to work in convincing senators to convene Congress into a Con-Ass.

Under the resolution, Arroyo said senators are vital part of Cha-cha to reach a federal system of government.

'There is an urgent need to convene the Senate and the House of Representatives as a Constituent Assembly in order to consider the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution,' she said in the resolution.

'It appears from media reports that the Senate has taken the position that the manner of voting in a Constituent Assembly that would propose amendments to, or revision of, the 1987 Constitution under Section 1, Paragraph 1 of Article XVII, must be done separately... the House of Representatives is taking the same position of the Senate thereon,' Arroyo added.

Section 1, Art. VII of the Constitution provides that '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.'

Senators, however, argued that voting should be done separately because the greater number of the House would practically drown out the Senate position.

With this, the House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) No. 9, which was already adopted will be withdrawn. In January, the House of Representatives has adopted House Concurrent Resolution 9 convening Congress into Con-ass to study and finalize the draft amendments to 1987 Constitution. The Senate, however, has yet to pass its own version.

Last week, Arroyo agreed that the two chambers of Congress should vote separately if it convenes in a Con-ass to break the stalemate with the manner of voting and for Congress to advance the administration's push for federalism.

She said the lower chamber will work with the upper chamber to 'move forward and achieve something.'

Unlike Arroyo, former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the lower chamber can convene into a Con-ass even without the Senate. He said the 1987 Constitution does not actually require the House and the Senate to convene the con-ass to propose changes to the charter and that it only requires 3/4 vote of all members of Congress, without specifically requiring separate voting, to approve the proposal.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 7, 2018
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