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Monday, April 15, 2024

House to parry ‘Cha-cha’ legal queries

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The House of Representatives is prepared to confront any challenge in the effort to amend the 1987 Constitution, especially concerning its economic provisions.

Rep. Rodge Gutierrez of 1-RIDER party-list asserted this Wednesday as he acknowledged the inevitability of facing legal scrutiny in any chosen method for constitutional change, while also affirming the House’s determination to navigate through the legal complexities in pursuit of constitutional reforms.

“I would say there is no other way but to risk it because any method that we take for constitutional change or Charter change is actually subject to a constitutional challenge,” Gutierrez told reporters.

He was responding to a statement earlier made by retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who cautioned that the inclusion of the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the economic provisions could potentially face scrutiny and be susceptible to another constitutional challenge.

Puno was among the invited resource persons at the hearing of the Committee of the Whole convened by the House of Representatives to address Resolution of Both House 7.

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This measure mirrors a similar proposal being deliberated in the Senate, aiming to amend certain economic provisions in the Charter concerning public services, education, and advertising.

Gutierrez highlighted the clarity provided by the former chief justice regarding the reasons for constitutional challenges, emphasizing that any push for Charter amendment would inevitably encounter legal hurdles.

“So, by virtue of mere inadvertence, anything that we do, whether it’s in the House or in the Senate, there will always be the possibility of a constitutional challenge,” Gutierrez pointed out.

Despite these challenges, he underscored the imperative of pressing forward with constitutional amendments.

“The question before us now as lawmakers, shall we continue it even if we know it will be challenged? Of course, because precisely we are advocating for this change, we have no choice but to move forward,” Gutierrez stressed.

Gutierrez noted that regardless of the approach taken by the House or the Senate, any alteration to the wording of proposed amendments could still face constitutional challenges.

He pointed out that even if certain phrases were amended based on advice from the retired chief magistrate, the absence of specific provisions could still lead to inadvertent challenges.

Considering the anticipated legal challenges, Gutierrez expressed confidence in the judiciary’s ability to fairly adjudicate these matters.

“We will leave it to the Supreme Court, which has proper jurisdiction on this, and we trust in their good judgment to make the right decisions,” he said.

Moreover, Gutierrez underscored the ultimate authority of the people in the decision-making process.

“At the end of the day, the plebiscite is the determining factor. It is the sovereign will of the people that will be followed,” he stated.

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