A FORMER committee chairman in the House of Representatives said that three years ago, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman “strongly advocated” for joint voting of the Senate and the House of Representatives acting as a Constituent Assembly.
“In an apparent 180-degree turn, Manong Edcel is now saying that joint voting of the House and the Senate is not desirable because the House will ‘overwhelm’ the Senate by its superiority in numbers. Why the sudden change of heart? Why is he now opposed to the joint voting of the House and the Senate?” according to Alfredo Garbin Jr., then chairman of the 18th Congress’ Committee on Constitutional Amendments, in a statement.
“Whatever the reason is, the saying in Albay that being forgetful is a very strong Lagman trait looks to be justified,” added Garbin.
Citing the contents of a transcript of the body’s discussions on January 13, 2021, Garbin said Lagman referred to the long-established Supreme Court decision on the issue of joint or separate voting in the 1967 case of Gonzales vs Comelec.
“I would submit that the positions should be consistent with the ruling in the case of Gonzales versus Comelec THAT THE VOTING…SHOULD NOT BE SEPARATE BUT JOINT, joint voting by all members of the constituent assembly. I would like to EMPHASIZE, IT SHOULD BE JOINT, NOT SEPARATE,” Lagman explained then, as per the transcript of that hearing.
Garbin said Lagman even pointed out the different capacities that members of Congress exercise when they sit as a legislative body and as constituent assembly. He said the minority lawmaker even explained that when members of Congress occupy the Constituent Assembly, they are not acting as legislators but merely as members of the said assembly.
“There is unequivocal distinction between legislative power exercised by Congress and the constituent authority discharged by it as a constituent assembly,” Lagman said according to official congressional transcript.
Garbin, who is advocating to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative, said Lagman’s advocacy for joint voting during the 18th Congress is the only subject matter of the current movement to amend the Constitution via People’s Initiative.
“The proposed amendment to the Constitution is to only clarify the manner of voting by adding the phrase ‘voting jointly, at the call of the Senate President or the Speaker of the House of Representatives,’” Garbin added.
In March 2023, the House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6 which calls for a constitutional convention (con-con) to amend the 1987 Constitution. RBH No. 6 received 301 yes votes, six no votes, and one abstention.
In December 2023, Speaker Martin Romualdez said the House will revive talks on Charter change come 2024.