Press Release
December 3, 2006


Should the House of Representatives approve resolution convening a Constituent Assembly to draft amendments to the Constitution even without Senate participation, the minority senators will readily go to the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of such unilateral Houses action.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said he has started meeting with his lawyers to draft the necessary petition to be filed with the Supreme Court in case the majority congressmen led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., succeed in railroading the adoption of the Charter Change resolution this week according to their timetable.

Pimentel maintained that De Venecia and his minions are following a patently flawed scheme by insisting that amendments to the Constitution can be approved by 194 congressmen (three-fourths of total House membership) even without the vote of the Senate. This is their interpretation of the constitutional provision that amendments can be passed by a vote of three-fourths of the members of Congress.

To amend the Constitution, there should be a corresponding resolution approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House cannot do it alone because this is not in conformity with the bicameral nature of Congress, the intent of the Constitution and the legislative traditions and rules, he said.

In fact, Pimentel said the Houses internal rules specifically provide that amendments to the Constitution should be approved following the same procedures for the amendments of bills, meaning that amendments upon approval by the House, are automatically transmitted to the Senate.

Commenting on the reported formation of a panel of congressmen that will conduct a dialogue with the senators on the convening of a Constituent Assembly, Pimentel said nothing will come out of this exercise for as long as the House panel subscribes to the position that the House and Senate should vote on the amendments jointly, instead of separately.

Pimentel also challenged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to account for her actions during six years of her presidency instead of plotting with her political allies to scrap the scheduled May, 2007 elections under the guise of pursuing constitutional reforms.

Pimentel said the forthcoming elections will serve as a referendum on the Arroyo presidency and any move to do away with this political exercise will be a travesty of the democratic process.

He warned that the plot to cancel the next congressional and local elections will only fan the embers of public disenchantment and further alienate President Arroyo from the people.

Referring to the reported consensus among administration congressmen to postpone the mid-term elections from May to November, 2007, the minority leader said this only shows that the President and her allies are afraid of being repudiated by the electorate in the face of nationwide surveys consistently showing the opposition is likely to sweep the senatorial race.

Now the hidden agenda of President Arroyo, Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. and their self-serving bunch of bootlickers is out. They dont want to submit themselves to the judgment of the people in 2007, as provided by law. They want to hang on to power at all costs even to the extent of frustrating the will of the people for them to submit to electoral accounting by 2007, Pimentel said.

Thats how brazen they are. The people should demand that they respect the rule of law while they still can articulate their concerns.

If the 2007 elections are suspended or discarded to suit the whims and caprices of the administration, Pimentel said this could be the last straw that would break the camels back. He said the people would no longer take this sitting down, considering that President Arroyo had repeatedly turned down calls for a snap presidential election and took advantage of the numerical superiority of her congressional allies to prevent her from facing an impeachment trial.

He branded the Palace-House plan to convene a Constituent Assembly as an exercise in futility in view of the Senates refusal to take part in the charade and the overwhelming objection of the people to the tampering of the Constitution to suit the self-serving gameplan of the administration.

On the part of the Senate opposition, we are one in our desire to block this sordid attempt of the administration to evade their constitutional and legal duty to submit their public positions to the will of the people in 2007, Pimentel said.

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