Senate, House must ‘dance the same dance’ or no Cha-cha

By on January 17, 2018


FILE: Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III  (Photo: By Albert Calvelo - Public Relation and Information Bureau (original here), Senate of the Philippines, Public Domain)
FILE: Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III (Photo: By Albert Calvelo – Public Relation and Information Bureau (original here), Senate of the Philippines, Public Domain)

MANILA — Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on Wednesday said that the two chambers of the Congress – the Senate and House of Representatives – must agree whether to vote jointly or separately otherwise they could not proceed to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“We have to follow the same procedure to have proposed amendments to the Constitution. Kung wala, wala (If we don’t, we can’t propose amendments),” Pimentel told reporters in an interview after the third Senate hearing into Charter change or Cha-cha.

“If the Cha-cha is a dance, the two partners must dance the same dance. If they’re dancing different dances then we don’t have a Cha-cha,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday filed a resolution asking the Senate to convene into a constitutional assembly (con-ass) and vote separately.

Meanwhile, the House on Tuesday adopted a resolution to convene in a con-ass and vote jointly.

Pimentel said that he would wait until the Senate received a copy of the House resolution before making any efforts to act upon it.

“Hintayin muna natin (Let’s wait for) whatever they passed yesterday and they will communicate it to the Senate officially and formally,” Pimentel said.

He, meanwhile, reiterated that the consensus of the Senate during Tuesday’s caucus is to vote separately.

“All senators believe that voting should be separately. We have bicameral conference committee mechanism to harmonize version,” the Senate President said.

“We cannot be physically joined together kasi (because) it goes against the final act of voting separately. It’s too difficult to reconcile you’re together in one place yet at the very end you will vote separately,” he added.

During the Senate hearing on Cha-cha, most legal experts including two former Supreme Court (SC) chief justices Hilario Davide, Jr. Reynato Puno and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. agreed that voting should be done separately.

Davide, however, insisted that Cha-cha was unnecessary. Puno and Pimentel were both in favor of amending the Constitution but via constitutional convention (con-con) and not con-ass.