On the question whether the Constituent Assembly must vote separately by Chamber or jointly among the Representatives and Senators, I am not changing my position that there must be a joint voting because the Members of the Congress are not acting as legislators but as members of a constituent assembly where one member is entitled to one vote individually and not through their respective Houses, as impliedly held in Gonzales vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 192856, March 8, 2011).
What I am decrying are the following aberrations in the call for constitutional amendments via people’s initiative:
- The people’s initiative has been transformed into a congressional initiative because the gathering of signatures is being conducted by municipal mayors at the behest of the Members of the House.
- The campaign for the petition is marred by signature buying which is in violation of Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to Section 19 of the Plebiscite and Referendum Act (RA No. 6735) which penalizes the buying and selling of votes.
- My position is now being echoed by those behind the present people’s initiative campaign to malevolently marginalize the Senators in the Constituent Assembly because the Senate has consistently been the graveyard of proposed constitutional amendments in the past.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN