Enrile on cha-cha: House and Senate must vote separately

MANILA, Philippines – Former senate president Juan Ponce Enrile agreed that the 1987 constitution must be amended, but he also said that charter change or cha-cha should be done with the House of Representatives and Senate voting separately.

“Otherwise you do not need the Senate to be in the Batasang Pambansa to be in the proceedings because it’s a question of numbers,” Enrile said on Friday, January 12. 

Enrile joins the sentiment of the minority senators, who said that a joint voting would render the Senate useless. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said they are thinking of bringing the issue up to the Supreme Court.

To achieve President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of shifting to a federal form of government, the constitution must be amended first.

This can be done either through a Constitutional Assembly or Con-Ass, upon the vote of three-forths of all its members, or through a Constitutional Convention or Con-Con, where delegates are directly elected by the people.

The law is silent what the voting procedue should be if it were a Con-Ass.

“The people who drafted the 1987 constitution were careless. They did not clearly specify the manner of voting of the two houses, although if I were asked, they have to vote separately, they are two houses, they have two rules, they have 2 quorums, they have 2 presiding officers, they have to maintain their distinctness,” Enrile said.

Enrile has always expressed inclination towards federalism, saying our current “form of government is quite inefficient.” But he warned that while there are no amendments to the constitution yet, the 2019 elections must not be postponed, and Duterte’s term cannot be extended.

Enrile said he “is not prepared to say” whether a no-elections scenario in 2019 is “good or bad,” but is adamant of only one thing, which is to follow the constitution that we have now.

Although once amendments have been made, Enrile said "anything is possible."

“There can only be a no election if you amend the constitution. Nobody can postpone it. They have to amend the constitution. Anything is possible if you amend the constitution. You can change the term, you can postpone the elections,” Enrile said.

Enrile was at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan on Friday, January 12, for the scheduled pre-trial of his plunder charges related to the pork barrel scam. The pre-trial was again reset with no definite new schedule. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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