Teddy Boy said that the intense public opposition to the glaringly self-serving and defective process of convening a Constituent Assembly would put an end to this second attempt at establishing a Unicameral Parliamentary system in place of the present Bicameral Presidential one. Indeed, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the El Shaddai Catholic Movement of Mike Velarde, the Philippine Senate, Media, Academe, Civil and Business Societies are building up a rising tide that looks set to sweep the House out of the building.
Rep. Locsin is himself said earlier in the program that he was for a "Unicameral Presidential System" because he still believes in Separation of executive and legislative powers. He characterized Jose de Venecia's response to a useless Senate, he quipped, by abolishing the Presidency and establishing a Parliament, hence his advocacy of a one-chamber legislature but with nationally and directly elected President. But no takers.
To me a Unicameral Presidential system would be like a helicopter with a main rotor but NO tail rotor. The Senate, even though it is numerically a smaller body, is like the tail rotor of a helicopter in which the main rotor is the House, with its much bigger body of elected Representatives.
Of course they were discussing the controversy over the Charter Change provision--
Article XVII Section 1 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; or (2) A Constitutional Convention.Dean Pangalangan defended the bicameralist interpretation of this provision that the two Houses of the Congress use a Three Fourths Majority Rule to approve proposals.
Teddy Boy Locsin defended the unilateralist interpretation of the provision, which by the way is not really the same as what might be implied by a unicameralist interpretation. The idea of the unilateralists appears to be that the Constituent Power itself resides in the Members of the Congress individually, a kind of representative-of-the-people's initiative interpretation of the Charter Change provision.
In my opinion they are both right and they are both wrong! That is because the provision is UTTERLY SILENT about whether it is voting jointly or voting separately. Either MODE of voting is Constitutional in my opinion, as long as the numerical result is obeyed that three-fourths of all the Members of Congress approve of the changes to be proposed for ratification at plebiscite.
And in fact, the Congress can legitimately decide what that MODE of voting will be--both Houses voting separately or jointly. HOW the House and Senate decide this question should be in the usual manner that it decides all issues in which the ineluctable equality and coordinacy of the two Houses of the Congress are perpetually in a state of check and balance--by a concurrence of both the House and Senate. Funny thing is, before the House amended its Rules the other day and excised Section 105's last sentence, that is exactly how the House itself accepted it to be--that all proposals for charter change that the House approves requires the concurrence of the Senate. Ahem.
Just as the Constitution is UTTERLY SILENT about the operations of a Constitutional Convention, it is largely silent about all the operations of the Congress when it exercises its Constituent Power, requiring only that the Congress must use a Three Fourths Majority Rule. This of course reflects the greater gravity of changing the Charter over ordinary acts of legislation.
But I think it is fallacious to say that because the Constituent Power is separate and distinct from legislative power, that the recipient of these powers is not the Congress, but its individual Members.
I think this is one of the more interesting Constitutional issues that will be settled if this ever gets to the Supreme Court. In other words, I hope the unilateralist lemmings DO jump off the cliff.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines head, the blogging Archbishop Angel Lagdameo announces a nationwide protest action sponsored by the CBCP against the Constituent Assembly move, on his website--
In this spirit, we are proposing a NATIONAL WATCH AND PRAY GATHERING, in all major cities or dioceses in order to express our opposition to the hasty and manipulative way CON-ASS is being pursued or undertaken for Charter Change. Not only do we need to WATCH (critique, denounce, purify) but above all we need to PRAY for the enlightenment of our leaders in government.Even ahead of the Church hierarchy, Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai vowed to stop the House moves.
It would be good if we can do this simultaneously in the AFTERNOON OF DECEMBER 15, 2006, FRIDAY, close to sunset, the EVE of the SIMBANG GABI. It will be about the same time the activity will be held in the Archdiocese of Manila in Luneta. As suggested, there should be no streamers or flags of any group allowed except streamers with the following message:
NO TO CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
YES TO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
NO POSTPONMENT OF MAY 2007 ELECTIONS