House to pass resolution on separate voting for charter change

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The House of Representatives is set to pass a new resolution calling for both chambers of Congress to convene into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), but specifying separate voting on charter change.

On Tuesday morning, August 7, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo filed House Resolution No. 2056. Her co-authors are Leyte 3rd District Representative Vicente Veloso, Majority Leader and Camarines Sur 1st District Representative Rolando Andaya, and Bohol 3rd District Representative Arthur Yap.

Arroyo said both the House and the Senate must discuss the substance of the proposed federal charter together.

"That's the way an assembly is supposed to work. If they don't discuss it together, then it's not an assembly," said Arroyo.

She has no target timeline yet, telling reporters, "We don't know because it takes two to tango."

Arroyo previously ordered lawmakers to "work hand in hand" with the Senate and find common ground so they would agree to convene into a Con-Ass. The Speaker backs separate voting for the House and the Senate to address the "stalemate" in the ongoing moves to shift to a federal system of government.

Veloso, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, earlier told reporters that he would inform his panel's members that such a resolution has been filed.

What happens to the previous Con-Ass resolution? According to Andaya, House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) Number 9 would have to be withdrawn and replaced with the new resolution.

Andaya said a lawmaker would move to withdraw HCR 9 during the plenary session.

The new resolution would then be referred to the House committee on rules, which Andaya chairs. The new resolution will no longer be up for the approval of the constitutional amendments panel.

"It's not being fast-tracked. It will undergo the same process. The chairman [of the constitutional amendments committee] will be there. He has already expressed his sentiments and the decision of his committee. It would be up to him to present these to the rules committee," said Andaya in Filipino. 

After deliberations at the rules committee, the new resolution will be brought to the plenary for final adoption. 

House timeline for charter change: Veloso aims to finish the committee deliberations and the passage of the new resolution by the end of October.

"We expect to finish at the committee level in two months. That is two months after the budget hearings, which we intend to finish this August," said Veloso in Filipino. 

But Andaya said two months might be too short a target for charter change, as he expects lawmakers to heavily debate the issue.  – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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