Press Release
January 17, 2018

Transcript of Interview with Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon

Drilon: Former Chief Justice Puno is of the view that the Supreme Court cannot interfere in the process of amending the constitution and how the constitution should be amended, because this is a political exercise and a political question, outside of the sphere of power of the Supreme Court to review actions and decisions of government. I repeat, I concur with the observation of former CJ Puno that the Supreme Court cannot interfere in the process of amending the constitution, because it is a political question. In other words, the Supreme Court cannot rule that w4 should vote jointly or separately - that question is left to the discretion of Congress because the process of amending the constitution is a political process lodged in Congress itself. That is very clear. Whether or not we vote separately, the Supreme Court cannot interfere.

Q: Paano kung may deadlock?

Drilon: Kung may deadlock, then there is nothing to work on. The constitution will stay if there is a deadlock.

Q: So the Senate can stop the..

Drilon: The Senate, by not acting on the resolution, effectively stops the process. But we will not do that. We will hear. In my view we should hear it. We are not obligated to act on it and if we will not act on it or we act differently, that cannot be questioned in the Supreme Court. For example, the resource persons seem to be favoring a constitutional convention rather than a constitutional assembly, if the committee recommends that the process be a con-con and the same is adopted by the plenary, then that effectively stops the Cha-cha train of the House. The Supreme Court cannot tell us, "no, it should be a constitutional assembly." In the view of CJ Puno that is beyond the power of the Supreme Court.

Q: What will be the minority's next move? Will you support the reso of Sen. Ping?

Drilon: It is not the minority bloc; it is the entire senate as an institution. Yesterday we had a caucus. The unanimous vote - no dissent - is that we should vote separately. In my 20 years as a senator, there's just a few times where there is unanimity. The unanimity was shown yesterday when all the senators said "no, we should vote separately." In fact there is a rumor, merong chismis na kapag may nag-attend ng isa of dalawang senador doon sa House, ang interpretasyon ng House ay iyon ay magigign joint session na at pwede nang amyendahan ang Saligang Batas, iyon po ang kumakalat. Kahapon, very serious si Sen. Lacson, kung meron pong gumawa na isa o dalawang senador at pumunta sa House, unang-una ay wala silang authority, but, more importantly, Sen. Lacson said "I will vote to expel the senator" if he or she goes there.

Q: Do you support that?

Drilon: There was no disagreement but what is significant is that how serious the senators feel about our power to vote separately, so that any indication that any member of the senate will defy that kind of unanimous opinion can be subjected to sanctions.

Q: With that unanimous opinion, does that mean, more or less, that you are in agreement with con-ass?

Drilon: No, that's why we are having hearings, because the first issue, as clearly defined by the chairman, is do we need to amend? If we have to amend, what is the process? And if it is constituent assembly, do we vote jointly or separately? If it is con-con, can we impose limitations? Interestingly, CJ Puno said you cannot limit the power of the constitutional convention, you cannot even limit the term or the life of the constitutional convention. They can go on perpetually because they can appropriate public funds. These are the views that are of record.

Q: Yung non-attendance, if ever, yung snubbing of the constituent assembly sa House, will it not result in a constitutional crisis?

Drilon: It cannot be constitutional crisis because that is only a process of amending the constitution. If we do not agree on the process or amending the constitution, then the present constitution remains. There is no crisis.

Q: Para po gumana itong Cha-cha, dapat po pareho kayo ng decision palagi - House and Senate? Or else kapag may isang nag-no, hindi matutuloy?

Drilon: That's correct. Gannon ang mangyayari. In fact the view expressed is that the redistribution of the powers of government, which will take place in a Federal system, is a revision of the Constitution, which preferably should be done by a constitutional convention rather than a constituent assembly, because it involves an overhaul of the constitution.

Q: Do you also prefer con-con?

Drilon: My resolution is for con-con.

Q: Yung naging decision kahapon during the caucus, what will happen as far as the charter change is concerned, nandoon pa rin under consideration?

Drilon: Nandiyan pa rin, under consideration. Everything is open at this point. That is why we are following the process and we are having a committee hearing. Perp pagdating sa issue ng joint of separate voting, maliwanag ang consensus kahapon na lahat ng senador aang aming decision ay dapat separate voting.

Q: Did the Senate President give any indication about the timetable or dapat hindi madaliin?

Drilon: There is a consensus na dapat huwag madaliin ito.

Q: Including the Senate President?

Drilon: Yes, including the Senate President. Huwag madaliin ito because it is like a toothpaste, the moment you bring the toothpaste out of the tube, hindi mo na pwedeng madaliin iyan.

Q: Yung suggestion ni CJ Puno na, hold a joint session but vote separately?

Drilon: The bottomline is that we must vote separately. That was the consensus the causcus. But everything is open at this point...

Q: What do you say to suggestions that we should go first on economic provisions to save time?

Drilon: Again, the issue is, first, is there unanimity that we should amend the economic provisions. Assuming that there is, how do we amend it? Same issues. And we intend to discuss them...This is an exclusive prerogative of Congress, because Congress is the branch of government which is tasked to amend the constitution and not the President, not the Supreme Court. Whatever is the decision of Congress is submitted to the people insofar as the amendment to the Constitution is concerned.

Q: Was it a heated discussion?

Drilon: There was no heated discussion. Nobody dissented.

Q: Sir, clear ba yung sentiment? According to Sen. Recto, naniniwala siya na majority is against Cha-cha?

Drilon: Sa akin hindi pa maliwanag iyan kaya po naghi-hearing tayo...In fairness, that is their view. My view is that let's hear it in the committee.

Q: What if one or two senators really attend the con-ass?

Drilon: There was a proposal yesterday. There was no dissent. Even assuming na pagdating ng botohan ay hindi ganon ang maging decision, but the point is, that manifests how strong the sentiment of the senators is insofar as the separate voting is concerned.

Q: Will the minority support the expulsion?

Drilon: When we get to that point, we will decide.

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