From the Akbayan Executive Committee
June 3, 2009
There are many uncertainties about the legal meaning of the passage of House Resolution 1109. What is crystal clear is that Gloria has not given up on remaining in power after 2010. Despite its patent illegality, despite divisions in the ranks of the GMA forces in the House, despite the withdrawal of HR1109’s main sponsor, Cong. Villafuerte, GMA’s people forced HR1109’s passage.
This move should be opposed in the strongest possible terms, using all means available for people to express their opposition – in the courts, in the Congress, most importantly in the streets. A broad coalition of civil society groups, political parties, religious groups, youth formations have already begun. Opposition has to be organized outside Manila . We encourage party units to take the lead in mobilizing opposition in the provinces.
What is HR1109?
HR1109 calls on Congress to convene as a Constituent Assembly. It specifically says that the House, without the Senate, can propose amendments to the constitution. It says that if the House can secure three fourths of all the members of the House and the Senate, 225 votes in all, it will fulfill the requirements under Article XVII of the Constitution.
By itself, HR1109 will have little effect except to declare to the Senate and to the public that the House is interested in convening a ConAss for the purpose of proposing amendments/revisions to the Constitution. It does not propose any specific amendments/revisions yet.
There are disagreements on the legal implications of HR1109. Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia, an HR1109 proponent, characterizes it as a mere “call to convene”, and an invitation to the Senate to join the House in convening a ConAss. If the Senate does not “accept the invitation” – does not pass a resolution convening a ConAss – there is no legal basis for a ConAss.
But the immediate purpose of the hurried passage of HR1109 is only to create a semblance of a justiciable issue that may be raised before the Supreme Court. Gloria and her operators believe that they have enough people in the Court who can secure a decision accepting the voting formula contained in HR1109.
It is clear that GMA has not managed to secure the 225 votes needed to pull off the charade of fulfilling the Constitutional requirement of a three fourth’s vote of the members of both the House and the Senate. Their hope is that if the Supreme Court says ConAss without the Senate does not violate the Constitution, they will be able to secure the remaining votes.
Lawyers in the opposition say that the passage of HR1109, by itself, does not create a “justiciable issue”. The expression of an intention to convene a ConAss without the Senate is not illegal. If the Senate rejects it, or chooses not to address it at all, then the entire move to convene a ConAss will remain in limbo.
There are indications that to force the issue, GMA’s people will go ahead and convene a ConAss, elect officers, and propose amendments. But without the 225 votes, the process will not even fulfill the requirements of HR1109 itself which calls for a three fourths vote. They won’t even have an argument to make to the Supreme Court.
Under conditions of legality, if the Supreme Court does what it is supposed to do, it should be easy to stop HR1109. Because Gloria has a long record of illegal moves, in the end, Gloria’s chacha can only be stopped politically.
§ We should tell Gloria’s people in the House that we will mobilize against them in the 2010 elections,
§ We should let Supreme Court justices know that they cannot violate the Constitution with impunity,
§ We should express our anger in our schools, in the halls of Congress, most importantly in the streets (maski na umuulan.