MANILA - Senators will likely steer clear of drafting a new federal constitution if congressmen will insist on a joint vote when both chambers convene as a constituent assembly, Sen. Bam Aquino said Thursday.
Joint voting is “non-negotiable” because it will allow the much bigger House of Representatives to overwhelm the 24-member Senate, he said.
“I don’t think any self-respecting senator would like to see that happen,” he told ANC’s Early Edition. “If it’s voting jointly, I don’t think the Senate will even open up to this process.”
The House needs to get senators on board in a joint resolution to revise the constitution through a constituent assembly.
But House leaders insist voting on a new charter should be done jointly, a move Aquino said would take senators “out of the game.”
The senator warned against “self-serving” proposals such as forgoing next year’s midterm elections and allowing incumbent legislators to remain as holdovers.
“Any self-serving provision should be excised,” he said. “Kung nagmamadali na rin tayo, why not just convene (the constituent assembly) after the elections? Everyone has a fresh mandate.”
At the Senate, opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan heads the constitutional amendments committee that will initially scrutinize proposals for a new charter, include the mode of doing it.
Pangilinan earlier warned of a possible 10-year term extension allegedly being dangled in Congress during the transition to federalism.
“It’s important that the minority heads this committee primarily because we can ensure that all voices will be heard,” Aquino said.
Asked about he possibility of the majority seizing the chairmanship from Pangilinan, Aquino said he and other opposition senators were prepared for any reorganization.
“Kung mamadaliin mo ang constitution, we will regret it down the line,” said Aquino, who earlier filed a resolution calling for a constitutional convention.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he preferred this mode, where delegates are elected. But he later yielded to his congressional allies’ push for a constituent assembly where legislators themselves will amend or revise the charter.