Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A Vote on a House Resolution Does Not Poll ALL the Members of Congress

Or, All is ALL, not 91%

The Constitution grants to the Congress a special power that Edcel Lagman & Co. want to call the Constituent Power of the Congress:
Art. XVII Section 1(1) Any amendment to or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by the Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members.
Allowing this neologism seems harmless enough and provides a compact way of referring to this much cut-n-pasted provision.

But after amending its own Rules last night to enable it to pass Resolutions proposing charter changes without seeking Senate concurrence as in the normal legislative process, the House leadership would next like to please be allowed to convene the Congress into a Constituent Assembly. For this purpose, it will later today debate and attempt to adopt the following New House Rules for Con-Ass:

Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, the Constitution may be proposed by the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members.

Section 2. A constituent assembly to propose amendments to the Constitution may be called by three-fourths of all Members of Congress in a Resolution adopted for this purpose.

Section 3. When proposing amendments to the Constitution, Members of Congress act, not as representatives and/or Senators, but as component elements of a constituent assembly exercising constituent power which is separate and distinct from legislative power.
I think it is important to understand the exact nature of the Resolution mentioned in Section 2 of Rule I that will be adopted for the purpose of convening Congress into a Constituent Assembly. Since the Constituent Assembly does not even exist before said Resolution is approved, this Resolution can only be a simple House Resolution in form and in substance. It surely is not a Senate Resolution, nor a Joint Resolution of the Congress, nor is it a Resolution of the Constituent Assembly it is meant to establish and convene.

Let me say this in no uncertain terms. The Resolution mentioned in Section 2 of the proposed House Rule I on Constituent Power is a Resolution of the Lower House of the Congress. Nothing more and nothing less. Indeed, it will proclaim that fact on the Title Page as An Act or Resolution of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the Philippines.

BEFORE the Congress convenes itself into a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of exercising its Constituent Power, all the Members of the Congress act in their natural capacity as elected Senators or Representatives.

BEFORE the Congress has convened itself into a Constituent Assembly, the Constituent Assembly does not exist and thus the Members of Congress are not yet the "component elements" of a Constituent Assembly as described.

All the Members of Congress are either Senators or Representatives. No Member of the Upper House may participate in the votes of the Lower House. No Member of the Lower House may participate in the votes of the Upper House.

WHO then may vote on the House Resolution to call the Constituent Assembly, according to Rule I Section 2? WHO may sign upon the House Resolution calling for a Constituent Assembly according to the proposed House Rules.

ONLY Members of the Lower House may vote on said House Resolution.

NOT ALL the Members of the Congress can vote on said Resolution, since it is a House Resolution. The Members of Congress called Senators cannot simply be invited to sign a House Resolution in some kind of metaphysical capacity. That would be absurd.

The vote implied in Section 2 does not involve ALL the Members of the Congress at all then. How can it produce a result that is three-fourths of ALL the Members of the Congress. Such a vote can produce between 0% and 100% of ALL the Members of the Lower House, but it is NOT a vote by ALL or 100% of the Members of the Congress. It is a vote involving the exact fraction 236/260 or about 91% of the Members of the Congress.

Since we are being strict about English Composition nowadays and plain readings are in, it would seem to me that the new House Rule on Constituent Power is void ab initio for violating the plain meaning of the Constitution that ALL the Members of the Congress participate in a vote that is won by Three Fourths Majority Rule to propose charter changes.

By amending its Rules last night to do away with Senate Concurrence in any proposal to change the charter, the House has created a LOGICAL TRAP from which its amusingly aberrant and disordered ideas on Constituent Power can perform for our amusement.


Jego said...

Im not amused. What a waste of time and taxpayer (our) money for something that the SC will overturn as unconstitutional. It's another case of 'baka sakaling makalusot'. It won't. Even if they work on the justices of the supreme court with the mother of all lobbies, I dont think the justices will rule against something so plainly written in the constitution: The Congress...

Can anything be done to save GMA's band in the lower house from the ignominy of another SC defeat by challenging this rule change in the SC now so the SC can rule already?

ricelander said...

If this were basketball, here's a good-for-nothing player who rams through with elbows and knees and fists flying for a shot at the ring while the ref looks away. Someone shall trip him good and he will land head first with his face scraping the rough pavement. And the crowd shall rise in loud cheers hollering "Buti nga sa yo!" I too shall applaud.

Tom said...

And this is the nation where this kind of governing happens that Isagani Cruz begrudges inviting balik-citizens to join? Thanks, but no thanks!

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

I just saw the House of representatives pass a resolution to constitute itself as a Con-Ass by majority vote. This is after changing all the rules to fit their agenda even to the point of Villafuerte saying that the house of reps has the power to convene the bicameral CONGRESS to amend the constitution as a constituent assembly where they are assured of a majority

This demonstration is the best argument against a Parliamentary form of government. But this is what they are going to do by means of their number which they are trying preserve at all cost.

Amending a constitution normally takes a year or more to do. But this congressmen are saying that they will finish it before Christmas and present a finished-amended constitution to the people by February 2007. This is because they have a finished one already.

Eric said...

I got a text from a friend saying, "How would you feel if the losing team suddenly changes the rules of the game in order to win?" This comparison to the arrogance of the House of Representatives is an apt comparison.

The arrogance (audacity, according to Alex Magno) of the House is unbelieveable.

I have a question: If the matter is brought before the Supreme Court, and the SC rules that what the House did was unconstitutional, what happens if the House believes that it's powerful enough to ignore the Court's ruling, and pushes through with the constituent assembly?

Lord Dracula said...

Hi, Eric. Maybe another Dred Scott?

Bernardo F. Ronquillo said...

A House Resolution has just successfully abrogated to the House of Representatives the power to convene Congress as a Constituent ASSHOLE. Villafuerte is right, they have the power to do this by themselves.

Now they must prepare for the coming storm that has been brewing and WILL now wreak havoc eclusively for them.

Eric said...

Milord Dracula, I hope not. Are you suggesting we might be heading for civil war?

Kulas said...

And for whom this bastusan exercise for, again?