June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

House deliberations on economic Charter change start on Monday

THE House of Representatives is set to start deliberations on a resolution proposing amendments to the Constitution’s restrictive economic provisions this Monday.

Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., one of the authors of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7, said the House would convert itself into a committee of the whole to expedite discussions.

He said several resource persons, including noted economists, have been invited to the initial debates that start at 1 p.m.

“The conversion of the House into a committee of the whole, which is like a plenary session, aims to involve every one of our colleagues in discussions with our resource persons. This will facilitate proceedings leading to an eventual approval or rejection of the proposed amendments,” he said.

He said the House would conduct three hearings a week and try to obtain a vote on the proposals before the Holy Week recess of Congress next month.

This was also the original timeline set for the Senate by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri for the Senate’s adoption of RBH No. 6, he added.

RBH No. 7 is almost an exact reproduction of RBH No. 6, introduced by Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara.

RBH No. 6 and RBH No. 7 are both entitled, “A Resolution of Both Houses of Congress proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, particularly on Articles Xll, XlV and XVl.”

The proposed House and Senate changes are on the grant of legislative franchises to and ownership of public utilities in Article Xll, and ownership of basic educational facilities in Article XlV and advertising firms in Article XVl.

The suggested principal amendments are the insertion of the phrase, “unless otherwise provided by law,” which would empower Congress to lift or relax present economic restrictions in the nation’s basic law, and the addition of the qualifier “basic” in Article XlV.

RBH No. 7 and RBH No. 6 also restate the provision of the Constitution that Congress may propose amendments “upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.”

However, in their resolution, after the phrase “…a vote of all its members,” Zubiri, Legarda and Angara added the words, “each House voting separately.” 

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada has said the House and the Senate should vote separately and not jointly on amendment proposals, claiming that joint voting is unconstitutional.

Gonzales said they dropped the words “each House voting separately” in RBH No. 7 “because those four words are not in the Constitution.”

He said they copied the exact wording of Section 1, Article XVll (Amendments and Revisions) of the Charter, which provides: “Any amendment to, or revision, of the Constitution may be proposed by: 1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members…”

“We in the House chose to be true to our Constitution by quoting exactly what it says, no more, no less. If they say joint voting is unconstitutional, separate voting is also against the Charter because it is not there. Let the experts interpret this provision,” he said.

Aside from Gonzales, the other authors of RBH No. 7 include Deputy Speakers David Suarez, Kristine Singson-Meehan and Antonio Albano, Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, Senior Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander Marcos, and Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez, Jude Acidre, Zaldy Co, LRay Villafuerte, Eleandro Jesus Madrona, Johnny Pimentel, Jesus Jurdin Romualdo, Wilfrido Mark Enverga, Jose Aquino ll, Brian Raymund Yamsuan and Angelina Natasha Co