Press Release
October 3, 2011

Transcript of Interview of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

On the Proposal for a Bicameral Constituent Assembly

Q: Sir, 'yun daw pong proposal para sa Bicameral Constituent Assembly, 'yun daw po 'yung nasa 1935 Constitution...

SP: Sa 1935 Constitution, it says that Congress jointly assembles by vote of 3/4 of all the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives voting separately, may proposed amendments or revisions to this Constitution etc. That is the provision. In the case of the 1973 Constitution, the Batasang Pambansa may propose amendments or revisions to this Constitution by 3/4 vote of all its members. They copied that in the 1987 Constitution and they said that the amendments or revisions to this Constitution may be proposed by Congress, by 3/4 vote of all its members and then it provides for two other modes. So, you ask yourself and I ask everybody, what is the Congress of the Philippines? It is defined in Article 6. It's composed of two Houses with their own rules, records, journals and members. So, we have been operating as separate House of Congress. And it's only when the Constitution says that we meet jointly like when we deal with the problem of declaration of Martial Law, suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus, or when we declare war that we meet jointly. But if not, we don't meet jointly. The third case where we meet jointly is when we canvass the votes for the President. So, in the case of the amendment of the Constitution, the 1987 Constitution does not say that we have to meet jointly. That is the meaning of a Constituent Assembly.

Q: But he was pointing out that the basis of the proceeding is authorizing that Congress vote separately is not anchored daw po sa 1987 Constitution...

SP: It's not found in the 1987 Constitution. The framers of the 1935 Constitution were very careful with the way they worded the Constitution. That's why we are confused because the present Constitution is very confusing. That's why we need to look at it and we don't need to tinker with the other provisions. We are suggesting a discussion on the economic provisions. No more, no less. I do not know why they are afraid to discuss the economic provision.

Q: Gray area pa po, sir, based sa 1987 Constitution, 'yung voting separately?

SP: The voting separately is embedded in the Constitution itself. We vote separately. We are two Houses. You have to consider what is the meaning of Congress. You go to Article 6 because the Article on amendment does not define the term for Congress. It's defined in Article 6.

Q: With the matter of amending the Constitution, it does not say that Congress should vote separately. 'Yun po ang pinopoint out niya...

SP: Hindi sinasabi kaya the Congress votes separately all the time except when it says that we have to meet jointly. Even when we meet jointly, in the last case of our consideration in the declaration of Martial Law by the former President, we met jointly but we voted separately. And yet when you read that provision, the joint session of Congress to deal with the declaration of Martial Law or suspension of the writ, it does not say that we vote separately because we recognize the Bicameral nature of Congress.

Q: Sir, sumagot po kasi si Lagman doon sa ano niyo kahapon na he should first read the Constitution. Sabi niya po ngayon, kayo daw po ang mag-reread...

SP: Well, that is a rhetorical question from somebody who does not want to study. I've studied the Constitution. I do not know how much reading he did with the Constitution.

Q: 1987 daw po 'yung binasa niyang Constitution...

SP: I have the 1935 Constitution with me and the '73 Constitution and '87 Constitution. When I opened my mouth, I've read those provisions. I read it, in fact, when I was interviewed. I will ask him if we reach the amendatory provision of the 1987 Constitution, where does it say that Congress will meet jointly? And that we have to vote jointly?

Q: Sir, kailangan po ba ang Supreme Court to step in?

SP: Hindi na kailangan ang Supreme Court diyan. Kami rin ay marunong sa Constitutional Law. Hindi sa kayabangan pero mataas ang grado ko sa Constitutional Law and I studied it under the Masters not only here but abroad.

Q: Sir, may statement daw si PNoy kanina na unnecessary ang Charter Change...

SP: I respect his opinion. I respect the opinion of the President but that is a mere opinion on his part. That's his position but it's up to Congress, not the President, to amend the Constitution. The authority is given to Congress. Even if the President wants to amend the Constitution, if Congress will not act, he cannot do it. But if the Congress will act, the President cannot do anything. He cannot veto. We cannot veto the measure. I think he better study it carefully. The one that is authorized by the sovereign people to amend the Constitution, to recommend to them to amend the Constitution, is first, Congress. A Constitutional Convention which must be called by Congress if Congress wants it or people's initiative. Nothing more. It does not say that the President can recommend and the resolution of Congress to amend the Constitution cannot be vetoed by the President.

Q: Taong-bayan lang, sir, through a plebiscite?

SP: Yes. Kaya trabaho ng taong-bayan 'yan. Ang inatasan ang kanilang halal na mga representative nila.

Q: Sir, some of your colleagues complained last week na hindi raw po sila nakonsulta...

SP: Who are they?

Q: Senator Pangilinan, Pia Cayetano...

SP: Well, we don't have to consult the Minority. That's why they're the Minority. They know their position.

Q: Senators Pangilinan and Arroyo?

SP: Now, in the case of Senators Pangilinan and Arroyo, we will consult them in due course. All, including the Minority, we will call them into caucus. We were just talking about the procedure and we have not even discussed the substance in that meeting. They better also think that we are thinking people. We are not irresponsible members of the Senate. I will not accept the implication that we are irresponsible. We respect their opinion but if they want to debate this publicly, we are willing to take them on. All of them.

News Latest News Feed