Ex-SC justice says Cha-cha efforts in House constitutional

February 26, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – Retired Supreme Court associate justice Adolf Azcuna believes efforts in the House of Representatives to amend the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution are valid.

Speaking before the House committee on constitutional amendments, Azcuna, a member of the commission that drafted the Constitution, yesterday said a resolution of the two houses of Congress is “sufficient” to propose changes to the Constitution.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has filed a resolution seeking to include the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to Articles XII (National Economy and Patrimony), XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports) and XVI (General Provisions) to allow Congress to ease restrictions on foreign ownership in certain industries.

The proposal requires that the Senate and the House vote separately.

Azcuna said Article 17 Section 1 of the Constitution does not say that the Senate and the House of Representatives need to hold a joint session to propose amendments to the Constitution.

“I examined the proposed bill – it is not an ordinary legislation that is being proposed here, it is a proposal that says ‘pursuant to Article 17’,” he said.

“It signals that Congress, while on the mode of making ordinary legislation, is exercising its constituent powers. If you were to omit that phrase, then your proposal is of doubtful validity. But it is there, therefore you are exercising constituent powers when it comes to proposing amendments.”

Azcuna said he does not want to limit the powers of Congress beyond what the Constitution says.

“While it’s true that in some instances, Congress should meet jointly when it tackles non-legislative matters, there is no general provision that says that Congress should meet jointly,” he said.


By Paolo Romero and Evelyn Macairan
February 26, 2014 
The Philippine Star
Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/02/26/1294613/ex-sc-justice-says-cha-cha-efforts-house-constitutional