Press Release
Press statement of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago
December 7, 2006


I agree with the Resolution that a constituent assembly should be bicameral. Under the doctrine of necessary implication, since Congress is bicameral, the term Congress means the two chambers. Further, the Supreme Court has already ruled in a decided case that the House of Representatives, acting alone, is not Congress.

However, I regret that I disagree with the Resolution, when it claims that three-fourths vote of the Senate, voting separately, is necessary. My position is, that a substantial number of senators is sufficient to meet the constitutional requirement for Senate participation in a joint session, with joint voting. I base my opinion on the fact that in several provisions, the Constitution takes care to specify when Congress should vote separately.

Since the Constitution does not specify separate voting for a constituent assembly, the reasonable conclusion can be drawn that voting does not have to be separate. To insist on separate voting, despite constitutional silence, would be engaging in speculative exegesis, which is not allowed in constitutional law.

Further, to insist on separate voting, without explicit constitutional basis, would be to vest in the Senate the power to veto the will of the sovereign people, as expressed through their representatives. It is true that the Senate also represents the sovereign will. However, since a senator has a national constituency, while a representative has a district constituency, it can be argued that a representative has a more direct grasp of public sentiment. For if a representative acts contrary to the wishes of his district constituents, he risks being voted out of office after three years.

I am told that the Resolution has been signed by over a majority of the Senate. This seems to indicate that a reasonable number of senators cannot be mustered to participate in the constituent assembly, sufficient to fulfill the constitutional requirement of Senate participation. If so, I venture the opinion that if the House decides to revise the Constitution unilaterally, the Supreme Court will strike down the fruits of its labors.

If a substantial number of senators decide to participate in the constituent assembly, I shall accompany them. However, in my mind, three or four senators would not be substantial compliance with the Constitution, and I would hence decline to participate in Consa.

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