cha-cha crazy

18 January 2011

there they go again, chattering about charter change, as if it were even do-able, what a waste of time.   read fr. joaquin bernas’s Finally a new Constitution in 2011?

In my view, one major obstacle to attempts to revise the 1987 Constitution is structural. It has a built-in unintended obstacle to change. And I do not know how this can be overcome this year.

Inmany respects the 1987 Constitution consists of significant borrowings from the 1935 Constitution. Unfortunately, however, the provision on the amendatory process is a carbon copy of the provision in the 1973 Constitution. Year after year since 1987 this has been the major obstacle to change. Why so?

The text says: “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) a constitutional convention. . . . The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.”

The provision is one formulated for a unicameral legislative body but it is now meant to work for a bicameral Congress. This was not a tactical product designed by an evil genius. It is merely the result of oversight. But the oversight has spawned major problems.

First, must Senate and Housecome together in joint session before they can do anything that can lead to charter change? The 1935 Constitution was very clear on this question: Congress could not begin to work on constitutional change unless they first came together in joint session. The 1987 Constitution is non-committal.

Second, since the text of the Constitution is not clear about requiring a joint session, can Congress work on constitutional change analogously to the way it works on ordinary legislation, that is where they are and as they are? I have always maintained that Congress can, but this is by no means a settled matter. There are those who believe that the importance of Charter change demands a joint session.

Third, should Congress decide to come together in joint session, must Senate and House vote separately or may they vote jointly? The 1935 Constitution was very clear on the need for separate voting; the present Constitution is silent about this. But I am sure that the Senate will not agree to a joint voting where their number can be buried in an avalanche of House votes, an avalanche of votes which can mean the abolition of the Senate! How will this issue be settled? Howsoever the matter might be settled by agreement of the majority of both houses, someone in the minority will run to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision.

What about a constitutional convention? But the business of calling a constitutional convention is fraught with the same problems. Should Congress choose to call a constitutional convention, must the two houses be in joint session? And if in joint session, should they vote separately?

Briefly, constitutional change in 2011 or later can happen only if the members of Congress can agree to work in harmony and if the Supreme Court will not throw a monkey wrench on how Congress decides to do it. Can the members of Congress rise above self-interest and work together harmoniously? Or are we waiting for an extra-constitutional change?

i like it, this obstacle not designed by some evil genius, rather an oversight of cory’s constitutional commission.   it means that charter change can happen only if and when our legislators get their act together, and that’s just so NOT in any one’s agenda.

extra-constitutional change?   another edsa, he means?   but a successful edsa, a successful revolutionary government, one that brings about deep-seated change, is soooo not in the stars, not until a true leader rises, one in the mold of rizal or bonifacio but wise to the ways of the world today and highly-biased for the filipino.

7 Responses to cha-cha crazy

  1. January 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    why is it called an oversight? why? how about, maybe it’s intended for any, or both, systems…unicameral or bicameral or whatever.

    To prevent anyone from doing an exercise in futility.

  2. January 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    not when it could be read to mean that the senate does not get to vote separately from lower house which outnumbers them. bakit naman papayag ang senado na balewalain sila.

  3. January 19, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    “The provision is one formulated for a unicameral legislative body but it is now meant to work for a bicameral Congress. This was not a tactical product designed by an evil genius. It is merely the result of oversight. But the oversight has spawned major problems.”

    Angela, I was referring to the above paragraph, by Fr. Bernas. What could be the basis of Fr. Bernas saying that that provision in the constitution is the result of an oversight. What I was saying is that maybe the framers of the constitution intended that provision for both unicameral and bicameral systems of legislative body. If so, then it was not an oversight.

  4. January 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    bernas was one of the framers of cory’s constitution. he’s saying nga na nagkamali sila. they copied lang the amendatory process from the 1973 const. under which unicameral ang congress. so it doesn’t apply to bicameral congress of cory’s consti.

  5. January 20, 2011 at 8:36 am
    baycas

    more readings of bernas here:

    June 12, 2009

    http://philippinecommentary.blogspot.com/2009/06/this-animal-called-con-ass.html

    June 24, 2009

    http://philippinecommentary.blogspot.com/2009/06/amongst-legal-eagles-on-constituent.html

    …and baycas too…in the comments section, hehe…

  6. January 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

    “they copied lang the amendatory process from the 1973 const. under which unicameral ang congress. so it doesn’t apply to bicameral congress of cory’s consti.”-angela

    If Bernas and the framers copied it without reading it, then really it’s not a product of ‘genius’, evil or not. It’s the work of some the opposite of genius. Did Bernas admitted that? If so, then it really was an oversight, indeed.

    On the other hand, if they read it, surely they would understand what they read, and having understood what they read, they copied it. Which means that they copied it because of an intention, and the intention would be no other than that they think changing the charter is not good for a unicameral congress. Which would lead to a second question of if it’s not good for a unicameral congress why should it be good for a bicameral congress?

    The bottom line is that the framers thought all along that changing the charter is not a good idea,therefore the intention of the framers was not an oversight. O, ‘di ba?

  7. January 23, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    How is the mortgage crisis, and drop in home values, going to be fixed if folks can’t get a new job? There are a large number of families that have lost their houses to foreclosure and millions more will unless the United States starts generating something more then debt. It is time to adjust the trade deals with China. For crying out loud, our largest trade partner is known to manipulate its currency!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twitter

follow @stuartsantiago on twitter

recent comments

  • © Angela Stuart-Santiago