Press Release
March 22, 2006

Czech Senate Pres Sobotka: "Democracy works best when it
is based on a bicameral parliament."

In what could be a rebuff of the call for a unicameral parliament, Senate President Premysl Sobotka of the Czech Republic has stressed that "Democracy works best when it is based on a bicameral parliament."

Sobotka made the statement in a speech before the Philippine Senate yesterday (March 21) following his courtesy call on Senate President Franklin M. Drilon.

"History has taught us, the Czech Republic as well as the Republic of the Philippines, that democracy works best when it is based on a bicameral parliament," Sobotka said in his native language.

Sobotka, the second highest leader in his government, and four other Czech lawmakers arrived in Manila last Sunday for a four-day official visit. He was the first foreign leader to address the Senate, although he made it clear that he has no reason to interfere in the countrys domestic affairs.

Senate President Franklin Drilon welcomed Sobotkas declaration as a boost to the Senates stand against pressures exerted by Malacañang and Lakas leaders to change the charter through the ConAss. "We will never succumb to these pressures," Drilon said.

"Talking about changing our form of government is not an ordinary piece of legislation," Drilon stressed, adding that "Based on our Constitution, the Senate is still an institution whose concurrence is needed for this very important task."

He also maintained that even in the case of a constituent assembly (Con-Ass), the House and the Senate must vote separately. The Constitution provides that any amendments to the Charter must be approved by three-fourths of the total members of Congress, which is composed of the House and the Senate.

Sobotkas assertion came in the middle of intensified efforts by the House of Representatives and Malacañang in changing the countrys form of government into a unicameral system.

"The greatest value of the Czech Senate is its role in protecting democracyand I believe that both our countries chose the right path in this respect by having two chambers," Sobotka added.

Yesterday, the Senate adopted a resolution expressing the position of the Upper Chamber on charter change. Senate Resolution No. 75 states that any proposed amendment to, or revision of, the Constitution requires the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives, voting separately.

Almost all of the 23 senators signed the resolution, except for Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., who is seeking medical treatment out of the country.

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