House OKs resolution to convene Con-Ass

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(File photo) Plenary, House of Representatives

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) — The House of Representatives has given a go-signal for Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly to revise the 1987 Constitution.

However, opposition lawmakers cried foul over how this resolution was passed.

At least four opposition congressmen were still in line to interpellate the sponsor of the resolution, but Deputy Majority Leader Rimpy Bondoc moved to close the period of interpellation and debates.

He said under House Rules, the debate may be closed after three speeches in favor and two against or one in favor and none against.

But opposition congressmen said they were only at the period of interpellation and that the period of debate had yet to start.

ACT TEACHERS Party-list Representative Antonio Tinio said, "Kitang- kita naman na talagang lokohan na 'tong Kongresong to. Na yung napakahalagang usapin ng pagbabago ng Konstitusyon, tinigil na anumang pagtatanong. Ni wala pa sa period of debate, nasa interpellation pa lamang at marami pa sa kasamahan natin ang naghihintay makapagtanong sa panukala nila."

[Translation: It's plain to see this Congress is a farce.That the very important discussions on the Constitution, they stopped any questions. We weren't even at the point of debate, we were only interpellating and there were a lot who were waiting for their chance to ask questions about the resolution.]

Opposition lawmakers fear that this railroading will also happen once Congress convenes as a Constituent Assembly, especially because President Rodrigo Duterte, who is pushing for federalism, enjoys the support of the supermajority in both houses of Congress.

They believe that the Constituent Assembly will be a rubber stamp, which would railroad the passage of a new constitution.

ANAKPAWIS party-list Reperesentative Ariel Casilao said, "They will fasttrack. Talagang sasagasaan nila anuman ang procedural requriements. Anuman ang sinasabi nilang open transparent, deliberative na deliberation ng constituent assembly, yan po ay empty words lang."

[Translation: They will fasttrack. They will really railroad whatever the procedural requirements may be. When they say the deliberation on the constituent assembly will be open, transparent, deliberative, those are just empty words.]

BAYAN MUNA Party-list Representative Carlos Zarate said, "Kung ano ang ginawa nila sa plenaryo ngayon, yun ang magiging mukha ng tinutulak nilang con-ass. Papayagan ba natin, maaasahan ba natin, ipagkakatiwala ba natin sa Kongresong ito ang pagpapalit ng ating Saligang Batas kung ganun ang kanilang gagawin?"

[Translation: What they're doing in plenary now, that's the face of the con-ass that they're pushing for. Should we allow, should we entrust this Congress with amending the Constirution if that's what they'll do?]

However, because this is a concurrent resolution, there is a need for the Senate to pass the same resolution before it can be implemented. 

Opposition lawmakers now call on senators not to allow the same railroading to happen in the upper chamber.