Law prof asks SC to break impasse between House, Senate on Cha-Cha

MANILA, Philippines – The first petition related to Charter Change or Cha-Cha was filed before the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday, January 25, and it seeks the High Court's intervention in a disagreement pitting Congressmen against Senators.

Should the House of Representatives and Senate vote jointly or separately?

Law professor Arturo De Castro filed on Thursday an 11-page petition for declaratory relief, which he said is necessary to avoid a constitutional crisis.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is pushing for a joint voting, while the Senate stands firm that it should be separate voting in order for their 24 votes not to be drowned out by the nearly 300 votes of the lower house.

Alvarez has even pronounced that the House can go on proposing amendments to the Constitution even without the Senate's participation. 

The House and Senate leaderships met over dinner on January 24 to try to break the impasse.

“If the voting should be counted separately, then the House alone may not proceed to propose revisions to the Constitution without the participation of the Senate,” De Castro said.

De Castro is a professor of Law and Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Lecturer, Dean of the College of Criminology and Associate Law Dean and Bar Review Director at the University of Manila.

Political question?

De Castro also asked the SC to rule on whether or not amending the Constitution is a political question. If an act by the executive or the legislative is said to be a political question, the SC is stripped of the power of judicial review to step in and interfere.

De Castro argued that the SC should insist its powers.

“The Supreme Court, as the final arbiter of constitutional questions is called upon to resolve the constitutional issue of whether the House of Representatives alone may propose amendments to the Constitution,” De Castro said.

“A final and definitive resolution of the constitutional questions...would diffuse the tension in the nation that would go a long way to keep and maintain stability in the political system in the Philippines,” De Castro added. –