The UP College of Law Faculty’s statement on the Charter Change


Last Monday, 20 April 2009, the House of Representatives commenced deliberations on House Resolution No.737 (Proposing amendments to the Constitution to allow the acquisition by foreign corporations and associations of alienable public lands and private lands) via a so-called “fourth way” in which HR No.737 will be enacted as a proposal to amend the Constitution through the normal legislative process, except that the Resolution shall be passed by three-fourths of each chamber. Two days later, House Resolution No.1109 was filed calling upon the members of Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly, upon the votes of three-fourths of all its members.
We, the members of the law faculty of the University of the Philippines, as teachers and citizens, are of the opinion that HR No.737 & 1109 are both without basis in law and ill-advised—
First. We should not confuse the need to innovate with the demands of expediency. The Constitution provides only three modes for proposing amendments—by initiative, Constitutional Convention, or Constituent Assembly. While Congress has the power to legislate, its powers do not include the ability to provide novel procedures for amending the Constitution. There is no legal basis for crafting a new way to amend the Constitution because the procedures for proposing amendments to it are exclusive.
Second. The Constitution clearly envisions an intensely collaborative process for proposing amendments to the Constitution. The Congress, when deliberating on proposals to amend the charter, exercises its constituent power as a unitary body, even as the members of the two Houses vote separately. In such a case, both Houses of Congress are transformed, to the extent required to perform their constituent powers, into a Constitutional Convention all of whose members deliberate as a single group. In separating the chambers of Congress into two constituent units, HR No.737 undermines the collaborative and deliberative philosophy implicit in Art. XVII §1(1). At the same time, HR No.1109, in seeking to convene the Congress into a constituent assembly even without the participation of the Senate, violates the principle of bicameralism essential to the legitimate operation of the Congress. The House has no authority to go solo on a matter that is even more important than the task of ordinary legislation.
Third. Explicit assurances that the amendments process will only be focused on the economic provisions of the Constitution do not insure against the contingencies inherent in the legislative process, especially when the stakes are high and the political environment is all but poisoned.
We, therefore, call on the House of Representatives to reexamine its priorities and work with the Senate on pressing legislative matters—agrarian reform, reproductive health rights, electoral reform—that impact the daily lives of our citizens; and instead of premature resort to courts of law, we call on the people to persuade their elected representatives that the way to promote progress in this country is through responsible legislation, not an inopportune and hasty overhaul of the Constitution.

Signed, April 23, 2009

Prof. Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Dean

Prof. Froilan Bacungan, Former Dean

Prof. Salvador T. Carlota, Former Dean

Prof. Raul C. Pangalangan, Former Dean

Prof. Eduardo A. Labitag

Prof. Elizabeth A. Pangalangan

Prof. Dante B. Gatmaytan

Prof. Rowena E.V. Daroy-Morales

Prof. Theodore O. Te

Prof. Jose Jesus M. Disini, Jr.

Prof. Herminio Harry L. Roque

Prof. Florin T. Hilbay

Prof. Ibarra M. Gutierrez III

Prof. (E.) Leo D. Battad

Prof. Solomon F. Lumba

Prof. Rommel J. Casis

Prof. Ildefonso R. Jimenez

Prof. Concepcion L. Jardeleza

Prof. Jose C. Laureta

Prof. Antonio Oposa, Jr.

Prof. Carolina R. Austria


4 Responses

  1. A call to pinoy blogs and bloggers to link blogs on HR 1109

    We are issuing this call to all pinoy blogs and bloggers to link to other blogs discussing or posting on the issue of the House Of Representatives passing HR 1109 in congress. Link to these blogs even if your blog’s topic is not on anything related to HR 1109.

    HR 1109 is one the most important actions of the current congress that will affect the whole country and our lives.

    Let us link together to give pinoys the opportunity to be properly informed on the issue so that they can intelligently decide on their own or join a group to take action.

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