Tuesday, June 2, 2009

House Resolution No. 1109 To Convene a Constituent Assembly


HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 1109 has been adopted by the Lower House. It's disposative section states:
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, THAT THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS BE CONVENED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROPOSING AMENDMENTS TO, OR REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION UPON A VOTE OF THREE-FOURTHS OF ALL ITS MEMBERS THAT UPON ITS BEING CONVENED SHALL ADOPT ITS RULES OF PROCEDURES THAT SHALL GOVERN ITS PROCEEDINGS.
As Rep. Luis Villafuerte told Ricky Carandang following the vote, the entire purpose of H. Res. No. 1109 is to trigger a "justiciable controversy" which will cause the the Supreme Court to rule on the following 1987 Constitutional provision which some people want you to believe that the following statement is "ambiguous"--
ART 17 Sec. 1. 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
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the Pinoy blogosphere wants to prove its mettle, it can launch a nationwide campaign to RECALL ALL THE CONGRESSMEN WHO RAILROADED THE MEASURE before they do anymore damage.

RECALL THESE USELESS CONGRESSMEN!

baycas2 said...

I understood the Congress’ default setting. I think it was in 2006 when you explained it first – in the comments section of your blog post “Western-style Democracy.”

However, as in a computer, some types of default settings may be altered or customized by the user.

The HOR is persistently trying to customize the “voting separately” default setting. In so doing, I abHOR them.