Padilla may request House-Senate meeting on charter change during break

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 27) — Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairman Robin Padilla said he may request a meeting with some members of both houses of Congress during the session break to discuss charter change.

In a phone interview on Monday, Padilla was asked about Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte's call to hold a House-Senate meeting during the summer break to show the urgency in amending economic provisions of the Constitution.

Padilla said he has no authority to convene a meeting but may request leaders of Congress to do so.

"Ang problema po kasi, recess, hindi po natin alam kung nasaan po ang mga senador sa oras na ito pero pwede po iyan, pwede po iyan tayo mag-request, pwede nating gawin 'yan. Wala naman mawawala kung mag-request tayo pero wala po akong authority na magpapapulong," Padilla said.

[Translation: The problem is, Congress is in recess now, we do not even know where the senators are at this time. But we can do that, we can request a meeting. We have nothing to lose but I have no authority to call for a meeting.]

Members of the House committee on constitutional amendments were supposed to attend as resource persons in a hearing led by Padilla last March 20. But Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri ordered Padilla to call off the invitation in the name of inter-parliamentary courtesy. Zubiri said lawmakers should instead hold a closed-door caucus to settle differences privately, as suggested by Cavite 4th District Rep. Elpidio Barzaga.

Padilla said his priority now is to finish the committee report proposing amendments to economic provisions of the charter through a constituent assembly or con-ass, where members of Congress themselves will introduce possible amendments. It contrasts with the House-approved proposal for a constitutional convention, where an election will be held for delegates who will draft charter revisions.

Padilla eyes routing the committee report after the Holy Week break. Signatures of majority or nine committee members are needed to sponsor the report in plenary for debates and voting when session resumes in May.

Earlier, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said the chamber is open to discussions on con-ass. Padilla called it a "breakthrough."

"May sariling desisyon ang Malaking Kapulungan. Para tanggapin po nila yung ating suhestiyon at sabihin nila na sige, pag-usapan natin, malaking breakthrough na po 'yun," Padilla said.

[Translation: The House of Representatives has its own decision. Their openness to listen to our proposal is in itself a major breakthrough.]