PARTY-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel is experiencing a déjà vu of last year’s impeachment process in Congress, as the race for signatures heats up between proponents and critics of charter change.

Parang impeachment ulit,” Baraquel told a recent forum.

Addressing students and NGOs gathered recently at the Ateneo de Manila, Baraquel said proponents of charter change are gunning to obtain 195 signatures to push a resolution that will convene Congress as a Constituent Assembly, even without the concurrence of the Senate.

(A link to an audio file of Baraquel’s presentation is found at the end of this post.)

Under the 1987 Constitution, amendments to or revisions of the charter can be introduced by either a Constitutional Convention, or by Congress sitting as a Constituent Assembly, upon the vote of three-fourths of all members. A people’s initiative may also introduce amendments, but only after an enabling law has been enacted.

Cha-cha proponents in Congress, led by Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., have announced that if they can obtain 195 signatures for the resolution, even if no single Senator will vote in favor, the Constituent Assembly may convene.

(236 representatives and 24 senators make 260; three-fourths of the number is 195.)

However, constitutional experts such as Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, insist that the two chambers will have to vote separately. (Click here for audio files of a recent presentation by Fr. Bernas, where he hypothesizes that there are enough obstacles to delay current charter-change initiatives, at least not upto the end of this year.)

Baraquel said 183 representatives have already signed the majority’s resolution pushing for a Constituent Assembly even without the Senate’s concurrence.

“They need only 12, and there is nowhere else they will get those signatures from but the 51 of us who have filed a contrary resolution,” Baraquel said. “Man-to-man guarding ulit ito, parang impeachment,” she added.

She reported that while Congress is currently in recess, cha-cha proponents are lobbying to get the 12 more signatures.

Last year’s impeachment process against the President came down to a race for signatures, as both sides aggressively worked to get the numbers needed either to take the case to the Senate for trial, or to kill it. The impeachment was finally killed in the first week of September.

Listen to excerpts of Baraquel’s talk here.
Length: 00:12:54
File size: 8.9MB

2 Responses to Cha-cha in Congress deja vu of impeachment — Rep. Baraquel


INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » Cha-Cha Files on i-site

May 2nd, 2006 at 11:07 am

[…] The Arroyo administration has likened its campaign for charter change to a “train.” While its allies in Congress push for a Constituent Assembly even without the concurrence of the Senate, the so-called people’s initiative is speeding ahead as well. […]


INSIDE PCIJ: Stories behind our stories » JDV ends House session with a pitch for unicameral Parliament

June 9th, 2006 at 1:59 pm

[…] The Speaker said the House majority remains convinced of the imperative to change the 1987 Constitution and effect the shift to a parliamentary system of government and unicameral Parliament. As their efforts to convene a Constituent Assembly have failed to hurdle opposition at the Senate, de Venecia now says, the House “fully supports” the so-called people’s initiative to amend the charter. […]

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