Congress an 'independent' branch, Andanar says amid deadlock on 'cha-cha' vote

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2018 04:02 PM

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MANILA - Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Saturday underscored the independence of the legislative branch from the executive as the houses of Congress are in a deadlock on the issue of voting for charter change. 

The House of Representatives and the Senate remain divided on whether they should vote jointly or separately should Congress convene as a constituent assembly to amend the charter, which is pursued by allies of President Rodrigo Duterte to pave the way for the shift to federalism.

"The legislature is an independent branch of government. Napakarami nilang mga congressman, mga senador. May kaniya-kaniyang wisdom 'yang mga 'yan," Andanar told DZMM radio.

"I believe at the end of the day, mag-uusap-usap din ang mga congressman at mga senador to come up with one solution paano ii-improve ang ating Saligang Batas para tayo ay magkaroon ng isang form of government that will be more responsive to the needs of the people not only here in NCR (National Capital Region), but responsive to the needs of all the regions," he said.

The House on Tuesday adopted a resolution for both chambers to form a constituent assembly and eventually vote jointly on amendments to the charter. 

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, has filed a resolution calling on the Senate to propose amendments independently from House members.

Senators have agreed to boycott a joint constituent assembly with the House to amend the 1987 Constitution, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.

Senators who would still attend the joint assembly would be expelled from the Senate, a move that was not opposed by any member.

Senators said voting jointly with House members may essentially dissolve the 24-member Senate as the chamber will easily be outvoted by the House, which has about 292 members.

House leaders said, however, that their chamber may proceed with its plan to convene as a constituent assembly despite a deadlock with the Senate over the manner of voting.