Bawal ipagbiyak! Separate ConAsses of House, Senate unconstitutional, Lagman says

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By: Xave Gregorio

The House of Representatives nor the Senate can constitute themselves as a constituent assembly on their own as this violates the Constitution, 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said.

Lagman said the Constitution is clear that the constituent assembly should be composed of both houses of Congress.

“The constituent assembly, composed of the Congress, meaning the House of Representatives and the Senate would have to meet together. There can be no separate shadow boxing with the House and another by the Senate,” Lagman said Tuesday (January 23) in a press briefing at the Batasang Pambansa.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Monday (January 22) the lower house can convene as a constituent assembly as the Constitution only requires a vote of three-fourths of all members, and does not specify for a joint session, unlike in approving declarations of martial law.

But Lagman said this is “against both the letter and spirit of the Constitution.”

“They have to meet together. They have to meet in tandem to propose amendments to the Constitution,” Lagman said.

The solon also scored the Senate resolution filed by Senator Ping Lacson calling for the upper house to convene as a constituent assembly separate from the House.

“The resolution by the Senate that they are going to meet separately to constitute a constituent assembly is also flawed,” Lagman said.

Several senators, who are wary of a possible abolition of the 101-year-old Senate to give way to a proposed unicameral legislature, have come forward in support of the resolution.

The issue of how to convene Congress into a constituent assembly would ultimately have to be settled by the Supreme Court, Lagman said.

“The Speaker cannot say he’s correct. Senator Lacson cannot say he’s correct. Because these are constitutional issues, the final arbiter of constitutional issues would be the Supreme Court,” he said.