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Talking about Congress

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There is  an ongoing “word war” between members of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate, following the Lower Chamber’s adoption of a Resolution upholding its honor and integrity against the alleged “intense assault” from the Senate.

The controversy stems from  the opposition of the Senate to the ongoing signature drive for a “people’s initiative” campaign to amend the 1987 Constitution; some accusing the House, including Cong. Martin Romualdez, of orchestrating and funding such initiative.

Sen. Imee Marcos has named her cousin, House Speaker Romualdez, as the mastermind behind PIRMA (People’s Initiative for Reforms, Modernization, and Action), accusing him of offering a P20 million “reward” for District Representatives who can clinch enough signatures.

While Congressman Romualdez has repeatedly denied his cousin’s accusation, he has also admitted to taking on an “advisory” role for proponents of the “people’s initiative”
campaign led by the pro-Charter change group PIRMA.

This is one of the times when the nation is experiencing the battle between the Upper House and the Lower House, that are fighting due to efforts  to amend the 1987 Constitution “by hook or by crook”.

These controversial events have led the public to wonder: “Who really is more powerful between the Senate and the House of Representatives?”

The answer: Both legislative Houses are like  the wheels of a bicycle that cannot function without the other. Each wheel must work harmoniously with the other.

That is also the  nature of the legislative branch under a democratic and republican form of government defined in the 1987 Constitution.

According to Sec.1 of Art. VI of the 1987 Constitution: “The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum.”

There are several types of measures that Congress can create, including Bills, Joint Resolutions, Concurrent Resolutions, and Simple Resolutions.

The Upper Chamber or the Senate is composed of 24 members who are elected at-large by the qualified voters of the Philippines.

On the other hand, the Lower Chamber or the House of Representatives is composed of 250 members, elected by legislative Districts and sectoral representatives of Party Lists. [Sec. 5(1), Art. VI, 1987 Philippine Constitution]

The root of the recent controversy stems from  the perception on the need to revise the Constitution, wherein the Senate and the House of Representatives will convene into a constituent assembly, and will not vote separately, thereby, diluting the voice of the Senators.

The public have expressed  concerns that constitutional amendments would go beyond the economic provisions of the Constitution, and will include the lifting of term limits that would allow politicians to stay longer in power. 

Davao Cong. Paolo Duterte has spoken on Cha-Cha: “I am against this people’s initiative as this is not the people’s voice but the voice of a few who want to perpetuate themselves in power.”

His statement has been echoed by his sister, Vice President Sarah Duterte; both their statements revealing the continuing rift between the Dutertes and Speaker Romualdez, and the growing disunity within the “ruling coalition”.

Abangan!

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Author’s email: whelmayap@yahoo.com

 

 

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