Speaker welcomes move to bring Con-ass to SC

June 4, 2009 1:53 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, June 4 — House Speaker Prospero Nograles on Thursday said he welcomes the move of lawyer Oliver Lozano and his daughter to bring the Constituent Assembly (Con-ass) controversy to the Supreme Court (SC).

"I hope that this would finally pave the way for the High Court to fully clarify the conflicting legal positions in relation to the Constitutional provision that provides for Con-ass as one of the modes in amending the Constitution," Nograles said in a text message.

"As the final arbiter of all legal and Constitutional issues, the Supreme Court holds the key that would put an end to this very divisive public issue called Cha-cha (Charter change)," he added.

In their petition, Lozano and his daughter asked the SC to strike down HR 1109, which seeks to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly, saying it was "unconstitutional" because "it says the House by itself could convene into a Constituent Assembly by getting 225 votes or three-fourths of the combined members of the House and Senate."

"The respondents railroaded House Resolution No. 1109 to convene the Lower House of Congress into a Constituent assembly to amend the Philippine Constitution. The alleged hidden agenda is to extend the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo beyond 2010," the petition read.

HR 1109 authored by Nograles and backed by 174 congressmen was adopted Tuesday evening in a marathon session by the House through "viva voce" voting.

Proponents of the measure claim that the resolution is only meant to trigger a justiciable controversy that will compel the Supreme Court to rule, once and for all, whether the two Chambers of Congress — House of Representatives and the Senate — should vote jointly or separately in amending the 1987 Constitution.

On the other hand, Nograles reiterated there was no mastermind in the adoption of the Con-ass resolution by the Lower Chamber.

"The Resolution 1109 plenary voting was very public and very transparent and covered live by media. The result was overwhelming 'yes'. Therefore, there are no masterminds except a democratic and collective decision was reached," he stressed.

The Speaker also said he respects the opinion of spiritual leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva with regards to the Con-ass issue.

"I respect Bro. Eddie's opinion but he too must learn to respect decisions of those who disagree with him politically," he said.

"Democracy also requires respect for majority rule even if one does not agree with that decision," he said.

Villanueva, head of the Jesus is Lord (JIL) Movement, earlier said his coalition of more than five million members is ready to take to the streets once the House of Representatives convenes into a Constituent Assembly.

"We will not have any second thoughts about going to the streets if the efforts to change the Charter now moves even an inch further. This is our commitment to the Filipino people and nation," Villanueva told a news conference in Quezon City.

The Villanueva-led coalition is made up of Bagong Pilipinas (New Philippines), Bagong Pilipino (New Filipino) Movement, the JIL Movement, Intercessors for the Philippines, Sagip Bansa (Save the Nation), and Philippines for Jesus Movement.

Villanueva lost in the 2004 presidential elections. (PNA)

LAP/LGI

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