Press Release
May 12, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today downplayed the impact of the stand of Senator Miriam Santiago in favor of participating in the administration-initiated Constituent Assembly that would amend the Constitution.

We respect Miriams change of opinion. The debate will now be more interesting, Pimentel said. He noted that Santiagos support for Charter Change is premised on the condition that the Supreme Court will declare that it will be constitutional for both the Senate and House of Representatives to vote jointly, instead of separately, on every proposed amendment.

Pimentel expressed the hope that the position of administration congressmen, led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. that both chambers of Congress must vote as one on every amendment will be rejected by the Supreme Court on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution and the intent of the framers of the Constitution.

He said the transcripts of the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, which drafted the 1987 Charter, would bear out the fact that it was never the intention of the Commission that any amendment can be voted upon by the Senate and House voting jointly.

Pimentel said it is an elementary rule that as a bicameral body, Congress through its two houses, should vote separately on every legislative measure, whether it be on the changing of the name of a province or town or the national budget.

He said to depart from this rule will not be in conformity with the Constitution.

Pimentel said he is glad that Santiago has not altered her stand that it will be unconstitutional to amend the Constitution by peoples initiative in the absence of an adequate enabling law.

The 1997 ruling of the Supreme Court on the Santiago vs. Comelec case remains the same. Charter Change through peoples initiative is illegal because there is no law that allows it.

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