Arroyo files resolution for House to vote separately from Senate in Con-Ass

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UPDATE

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo filed a resolution on Tuesday expressing the sense of the lower house to vote separately from the Senate when Congress convenes as a constituent assembly to decide on amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

House Resolution No. 2056 was sponsored by Arroyo, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr, and Reps. Vicente Veloso, Arthur Yap, and Alfredo Garbin Jr.

 

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 6) — House leaders are set to file a resolution expressing the sense of the lower house to vote separately from the Senate when Congress convenes as a constituent assembly to decide on charter change, a congressman said Monday.

House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairman Vicente Veloso said Arroyo urged her allies to file the resolution which will be authored by himself, Arroyo, Majority Leader Nonoy Andaya, and other solons.

The House of Representatives approved a resolution to convene as a constituent assembly in January, but the Senate has yet to act on a similar measure. The upper house is hesitant to act on charter change, amid low support for federalism in public surveys and some senators' distrust of Arroyo.

RELATED: Lacson: Cha-cha 'good as dead' with Arroyo in the House

Andaya said there is no need to withdraw the previously approved resolution, as they only wish to express the stand of the House of Representatives.

"Sense of the House nalang naman. Basically wala naman binabago," he said.

[Translation: It's just the sense of the House. Basically nothing has changed.]

Veloso said the resolution will expedite proceedings instead of passing a new resolution to convene the constituent assembly.

"(The) previous resolution is there, but there are suggestions na iwithdraw. Pag withdraw, it will trigger a lot of debates. Pag inamend, it will trigger debate," said Veloso.

[Translation: (The) previous resolution is there, but there are suggestions to withdraw it. If it is withdrawn, it will trigger a lot of debates. It it is amended, it will (also) trigger debate.]

The resolution will be referred to the Committee on Rules for discussion, after which it will be presented to the plenary for approval.

The push for the two houses of Congress to vote separately is a turn from Arroyo's predecessor, Pantaleon Alvarez, who maintained otherwise. The Senate was apprehensive about voting jointly with the House, as they would be outnumbered by over 200 members.

Veloso also noted that the constituent assembly itself was a much-debated mode for charter change. Often shorted to "Con-Ass," the mode means Congress will convene to propose amendments to the Constitution. Critics of the Con-Ass believe lawmakers could forward partisan or personal interests, as opposed to a constitutional convention, where officials are elected specifically for the purpose of amending the law.

It is unclear whether the Senate will make its own moves to push for a shift to federalism, a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte. Senate President Tito Sotto previously said they would not rush the proposal, while Majority Leader Migz Zubiri said it is not a priority.

Senator Koko Pimentel, President of ruling party PDP-Laban, welcomed the development on Monday.

"Good... At least (that's) one issue down, pero marami pang issue on the substance," Pimentel said.

"Ako kasi, dapat you should trust your fellow worker in government. Huwag nating isipin na parating may hidden agenda," he added. "Part ng parliamentary rules yan eh, tsaka courtesy."

[Translation: Good... At least (that's one) issue down, although there are plenty of issues on substance. For me, you should trust your fellow worker in government. Let's not think there is a hidden agenda. It's part of parliamentary rules and courtesy.]

Related: Koko Pimentel: Senators do not trust Arroyo

Pimentel was referring to some senators' speculation that Arroyo's push for federalism is a bid to assume the post of Prime Minister or extend her stay in power. The former president also pushed for charter change in her term, although she has dismissed such criticism as "black propaganda."

CNN Philippines correspondents Joyce Ilas and Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.