Press Release
April 13, 2009


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, a leading constitutional law expert, said that when the House of Representatives passes a resolution for charter change, immediately the Senate will file a petition in the Supreme Court to compel a separate Senate vote on the resolution.

"The Constitution requires a vote of three-fourths of all the members of Congress. The two chambers should vote at the same time, but should vote separately. This is the doctrine of necessary implication, because Congress is a bicameral body," she said.

Santiago said that in Asia, the Philippines is one of several countries that follow the US presidential system, including Indonesia, South Korea, and Taiwan; but only Japan follows the parliamentary system.

She said that if a constituent assembly votes to change over to a parliamentary system, the voter would refuse to ratify it in a plebiscite.

"The Filipino is jealous of his personal vote in a presidential election. He will not surrender it to members of parliament, who would have the sole power to elect the prime minister," she said.

Santiago said that the present presidential system guarantees that most important decisions are made by a broad majority, unlike a parliamentary system where a minority group could impose its will on the nation.

"The only thing you can say in favor of a parliamentary system is that you can avoid a deadlock between the President and Congress. A parliamentary system avoids legislative paralysis, but the downside is dominance by the administration party," she said.

"In any event, the time left is too short. Once the case reaches the Supreme Court, we would all have to wait. At this time, charter change is not a political but a judicial question," she said.

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