Press Release
December 10, 2008

Pimentel backs Senate-House dialogue on Charter amendments

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today backed a suggestion of Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco (Lakas-NUCD) and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III for the Senate and House of Representatives to hold talks in order to resolve major differences in the current effort to amend the l987 Constitution.

Pimentel said the planned series of dialogue would be a appropriate mechanism for hastening the resolution of conflicts between the two chambers of Congress, and among the senators and congressmen themselves, over the issue of whether the Charter should be amended through a Constituent Assembly or a Constitutional Convention and the issue of whether the Senate and House should vote jointly or separately on amendments in case the Consa option is chosen.

Unless the Senate and House will pursue a common effort to iron out these differences, he said the lawmakers will just be quarrelling and debating endlessly over these points of controversy without accomplishing anything.

Through these bicameral talks, Pimentel said the senators will be able to fully present to the House members the arguments to refute their proposition that the House can initiate amendments to the Constitution even without participation of the Senate.

"That is a good first step. It takes two to tango, especially on constitutional revisions," the senator from Mindanao said.

"The initiative of the House to amend the Constitution by themselves will not prosper. Since Congress is composed of two chambers, one cannot act on the amendment by itself," the senator from Mindanao said.

Meanwhile, Pimentel said some congressional leaders loyal to Malacañang are merely bluffing when they threatened to mount an ouster move against Speaker Prospero Nograles for declaring that he was open to the holding of a Con Con as an alterative mode of amending the Constitution.

He said Nograles is likely to jump over to the opposition if he is booted as House speaker, duplicating the defection of Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia, Jr. from the administration camp after he was stripped of the speakership early this year in the wake of national broadband network-ZTE scandal.

"They will find it hard to make good on their threat. That will only result in the beefing up of the ranks of the opposition. I believe that Boy Nograles will join the opposition if they do that," Pimentel said.

"First, they removed Speaker De Venecia and now they have threatened to remove Nograles. They will only be making an enemy out of Nograles. That will be an addition to the administration's enemies in the House."

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