Press Release
December 7, 2006

Villar: Senate will not take House Con-Ass move sitting down
Senate President says Senate firming up plans to derail House Chacha Express

Not too fast!

Senate President Manny Villar, President of Nacionalista Party, today made this reaction to the House of Representatives move to railroad the approval of a resolution convening Congress into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to amend the 1987 Constitution sans the participation of the Senate.

Senate President Villar said that in defense of the Senate as an institution, an overwhelming majority of the senators have firmed up plans to block head-on the Chacha express in the House, citing legal and constitutional flaws that have characterized the lower chambers mad rush to tinker with the fundamental law of the land.

Villar said the Senate will certainly elevate the matter before the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule with fairness and objectivity on the constitutional and legal questions created by the Houses unilateral move to convene the Con-Ass.

We are reviewing the situation as it unfolds. We will review the developments every step of the way, and we will wait for the proper time to file the case before the Supreme Court. We dont want any premature move to weaken the Senates case against the House, Villar said.

The Senate President maintained that what the House did in amending its rules to shortcut the process of amending the Constitution through Con-Ass may be well within the powers and prerogative of the house but the house plan to go it alone, meaning without the senators participation is fatally flawed.

Villar reiterated the Senates unwavering position that amending the Constitution through Con-Ass should go through the proper and legal process, wherein the House and the Senate would convene in joint session, with both Houses voting separately on the proposed amendments. This is in deference to the principle of bicameralism enshrined in the Constitution.

Villar expressed confidence that the High Tribunal under newly appointed Chief Justice Reynato Puno will uphold fairness and justice, and prevent the House from making a mockery of the Constitution and the countrys democratic traditions. He said the senators remain united behind the Constitution, and that they would not allow their colleagues in the House to violate it with impunity. Majority of the senators have signed a resolution vehemently opposing the Houses Charter change moves.

Villar announced that the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by Senator Richard Gordon will resume its hearings on Monday to hear the views of various groups, who were not given the opportunity by the House to air their views.

If they were ignored by the House, then we in the Senate will afford them the democratic space deprived them. We will give them the chance to ventilate their views and provide a venue for an intelligent and objective discussion of Charter change, Villar said.

He doubted if the Con-Ass move would be a walk-in-the-park for its avid pushers in the House.

Villar said that as it stands now, the House would have to hurdle three major obstacles to make good its stubborn bid to amend the Constitution.

Unang-una, kaya ba nilang makuha ang boto ng 195 na mga kongresista? Pangalawa, kaya ba nilang ilusot sa Supreme Court ang kanilang Con-Ass? At pangatlo, tatanggapin ba ng taong bayan sa isang plebisito ang mga panukalang amyenda na idinaan sa maling proseso. Majority ng senador na ang pumirma sa aming resolusyon, at patuloy naming kinakausap ang dalawa pa naming kasamahan upang maging unanimous ang posisyon ng Senado, Villar said.

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