Friday, December 12, 2008

Unicameral Con-Ass Again?

Speaking on the noon time news today, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero brings up a good point. The present chacha movement in the House may be nothing more than a rear guard action to prevent her becoming a lame duck. As long as even the faintest hope of extending her term or changing the Constitution to suit exists, the Palace may be able to forestall the inevitable abandonment as 2010 and a new dispensation approaches. Palace allies in the House are keeping up a brave front about the Villafuerte Resolution--which reportedly convenes the Congress into a Constituent Assembly without the concurrent approval of the Senate. Yesterday, the Upper House voted unanimously to reject such a "unicameral Con-Ass" -- a Constitutional abomination if there is one.
Some people want you to believe that the following statement is "ambiguous"--
Any amendment to, or revision of this Constitution, may be proposed by the Congress upon a vote of three fourths of all its Members;
They want you to believe that it is ambiguous because they actually want the Supreme Court to decide what the Constitution means by this simple declarative sentence--after the President gets seven more chances to populate it with willing sycophants.

But it is NOT the case that one of the two alternatives, joint or separate voting on proposed charter changes, is unconstitutional, since either mode can comply with the three fourths majority requirement. Either mode is constitutional. There is naothing for the Supreme Court to decide. It is not that kind of ambiguity. It is up to the Congress to dacecide in its own discretion, which mode to use, not for the Supreme Court to decide which is bigger, half a dozen of one or six of the other!

In my opinion there is NO ambiguity to the fact that "the Congress" (NOT the House, nor the Senate, nor the Members of the Congress) is here granted the power to propose any amendment or revision to the Charter. HOW it is to comply with the three fourths majority rule requirement for approving such proposals is, most emphatically, entirely in the discretion of the Congress. There is no deep or hidden meaning in this plain language for the Supreme Court to debate upon, or discern, or adjudicate. The Constitution simply provides "the Congress" with the power to propose charter changes as long as it obeys the three fourths majority rule.

Thus, it is indubitably Constitutional for the Congress to adopt either VOTING JOINTLY as the House Majority is suddenly insisting upon as a last desperate chachachero dance, or VOTING SEPARATELY as the House and Senate have put in their Rules until this very day! Let me repeat: voting jointly or voting separately complies with the three fourths majority rule, so either mode would be Constitutional.

The important and perhaps subtle point that lots of people have missed, is that the Constitution leaves it entirely up to the Congress HOW it will exercise "constituent power" (the power to propose changes) whilst complying with the numerical majority requirement.

Now for the coup d'grace: although "the Congress" could conceivably decide to adopt the joint voting mode and ignore the difference between Senate and House membership, it can only ever come to this decision by first voting upon it in the default mode by which the Congress does anything--by having the House and Senate separately approve the same by a simple majority vote!

There are in fact a myriad number of ways conceivable for the Congress to approve proposed charter changes whilst complying with the three fourths majority rule. But every single one of these completely Constitutional modes can only be approved by "the Congress" in its default mode: House and Senate voting separately!

So once and for all, ladies and germs: the Supreme Court has nothing to decide or adjudicate in Article 17 Sec. 1. The Constitution is not ambiguous about Charter Change. It gives to the Congress all the powers and prerogatives to decide HOW it will comply with the Constitution when it proposes changes to it.

The "laws of physics" of a Bicameral Legislature dictate the "construction" of the Constitution and cannot be repealed without self-ridicule, not even by a Supreme Court of uniform sycophancy.


Pedestrian Observer GB said...

hehehe, so is that why tongress errr con artist ooops congress is not voting on the con ass when they have the numbers because the senate will definitely vote against it?

Arvin Ortiz said...

When the Supreme Court will intervene on this matter, do you think it will be usurping the power of the Congress?

DJB Rizalist said...

SCORP has usurped Congressional powers before, on the key issue of Presidential succession and impeachment. It could do so again in this case, but it depends. For there to be justiciable issue something fairly drastic has to happen, not just the passage of some resolution in the Lower House. Perhaps if the President were to sign such a unicameral chacha into "law" and certify it for Comelec funding of a plebiscite, then a proper case can be launched. But I do not think the "ambiguity" is resolvable "theoretically". Someone has first to do something whose Constitutionality can be adjudicated. The present Rules of the Congress are obviously constitutional. The burden of proof lies with the supporters.