Writing at Filipino Voices (FV) is a time-consuming endeavor and I do not have the time. But glancing at FV does not require so much time and glancing at it lately, I was shocked to find the collective “Voice” shrilled and frayed over HR 1109, a resolution that some say is a precursor to the extension of the reign of the queen at Malacanang.
The conundrum of voices at FV over the resolution that convenes the lower house as a constituent assembly to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of Tralala sent tremors to my self-absorbed activity and self-imposed furlough, and brought me back to punch my keyboard at the expense of my personal endeavor that requires my full and undivided attention. I can only look with envy at some prolific contributors at this site that can mass-produce literary pieces on a coffee-break, or others that can churn out articles after articles with classic theme of “beating around the bush” and mindless of the footprint their masterpieces leave on the minds of the readers. I look at the readers with respect and studied caution and thus would think a while before I smoke my keyboard.
The Constitution is the law of the land. Some say it is like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched and must be viewed with sanctimonious reverence. [Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826)] Some say it was made by the people and the people alone can unmake it. It is a creature of their own will and lives only by their will. [John Marshall (1755-1835)].
So if you were a Jeffersonian in thought, your protest against HR 1109 is justified. The Constitution which is too sacred a covenant will be soiled if the scoundrels in Congress will be allowed to touch it, but if you were of Marshall’s insight, the constitution can be rewritten by the people, or by the people’s representatives in Congress.
But which Congress constitutes ¾ that can propose amendments to the Constitution? HR 1109 was quite certain that ¾ of congress is the total number of congressmen and senators minus 25%. Or if there are 265 congressmen and 24 senators, ¾ of that number is 217. The Resolution which the House has portrayed to have been unanimously passed on June 2, 2009 with the “ayes” drowning the “nays” brings back to memory the 1973 Marcos constitution which was ratified by viva voce in the barangay halls of the Republic Tralala. The House claimed that the vote constituted ¾ of Congress voting to constitute itself as a constituent assembly to propose amendments to the constitution. Its leadership calls everyone to visit Art. XVII of the Constitution and be enlightened by the reality that the said article did not say that ¾ of Congress means ¾ of the House and ¾ of the Senate convening in a joint session or separately.
The House reads Article XVII of the Constitution to mean that ¾ of Congress is 217 all congressmen without Senators, or 217 regardless of whether the number has congressmen and senators in them.
But take note that the FV writer that started this brouhaha in an Open Letter said that there were 170 Congressmen who approved the resolution and therefore the number is short of 47 votes to make ¾ that is authorized to make amendments to the Constitution. He has not intimidated that he has inside information of the insidious plot in the house to present this Resolution as having been voted by at least 217 congressmen and therefore would force through the throat of the nation that it is now authorized to tinker with the Constitution and prolong the reign of the queen.
Except for a couple of Senators who twitted on the claim of the House about what constitutes ¾ of Congress, the general response of the Senate was totally dispassionate. The general sentiment in the Senate is that the House is free to believe whatever legal nuances it has on the constitution, but the interpretation of the provisions thereof is lodged with the Supreme Court. So expect a forthcoming saga being fought in the judicial trenches.
But are we not supposed to have faith in the wisdom of our elected congressmen to amend the constitution for after all we elected them to the office to perform precisely what they had been mandated to perform, to “sit as constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution?” Or had we been affected so much by Benign0’s old-familiar refrain, that these bozos are the representation of ourselves as a people and therefore they are as half-wits and dimwits as ourselves to be entrusted with solemn duty to tweak the fundamental law of the land? Who then can we trust to rewrite the constitution?
Does anyone consider our present recriminations misplaced and premature because we have yet to see how the House will brew the constitution but we were already bellyaching on the treasonous sell-out by which our distinguished congressmen offered us HR 1109?
If the recipe is abhorrent to our taste, are we not supposed to spew it out and reject it in a plebiscite that is called to ratify the amendments? Why do we have to protest so much on an issue the resolution of which lies within our sovereign capacity to resolve?
Apparently our discordant voices foreshadow that lack of faith in the wisdom of our congressmen we elected to office. We are the mirror of these bozos in Congress and feel a very nauseating discomfort of seeing ourselves as half-wits and yet rewriting the sacred law of the land.