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House junks Lagman's bid to stop Cha-cha deliberations

The House of Representatives on Tuesday junked the motion of Albay Representative Edcel Lagman to stop the deliberations on the resolution calling for a constitutional convention (con-con) to amend the 1987 Constitution. 

Lagman's motion was defeated via voice vote.

Before this, Lagman tried to convince his colleagues to suspend the deliberations on the resolution, arguing that any moves to amend the Constitution must involve the Senate.

"The deliberations on Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 calling for a constitutional convention presently conducted by the House of Representatives singly without joint session with the Senate are patently unconstitutional and must be ceased immediately," he said.

Lagman said that under Article 17 of the Constitution, "Congress" refers to both chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

"The Constitution under Article 17 says the Congress [may amend] upon a vote of three-fourths of all of its members, and under Section 3 it says the Congress [may call a constitutional convention] by a vote of two-thirds of all its members; when the Constitution says all, that means to say all the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and they are presumed and required to meet as one in joint session," he said.

However, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez, chairperson of the constitutional amendments panel, said that a joint session is not required.

"That is not correct; the Constitution is very clear; it only requires a two-thirds vote of its members; there is no mention of a joint session; there is no mention of a vote by an assembly of a joint session. Article 17 would say just three-fourths of members for a constituent assembly are required; no need for joint assembly," Rodriguez said.

"There is no requirement for a joint session to be called before we approve a resolution, either calling for a constituent assembly or for a con-con," he added.

Lagman said he respects the House's decision, "although I feel that it is errant," before yielding the floor to Kabataan party-list Representative Raoul Manuel for his interpellation.

The Constitution may be amended or revised through the following: a constituent assembly (con-ass) of incumbent lawmakers; a constitutional convention (con-con) made up of delegates elected by the people; and the people's initiative. —VBL, GMA Integrated News