Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said the House of Representatives cannot change the constitution through a constituent assembly without the consent and participation of the Senate.
"This action by the House is forbidden, illegal, and immoral. It violates two key provisions of the Constitution," said Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws.
He said that Article 6, Section 1 of the Constitution expressly states that legislative power is vested in the Congress, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
More importantly, Escudero said, Article 16, Section 1, subsection 1, clearly says that any amendment or revision of the constitution may be proposed by Congress, through a constituent assembly, upon a vote of three-fourths of its members.
"The House cannot do the cha-cha all by its lonesome. One need not belabor the point at the expense of far more important matters of State," he said.
He noted that Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, Jr., one of the framers of the 1987 charter, has pointed out that the Constitutional Commission decided on a bicameral assembly so that "important policy and constitutional decisions must go through a process of double examination and double voting."
The 39-year old lawyer-senator agreed with Bernas that any proposal to amend or revise the Constitution through a constituent assembly should go through a separate process of debate and voting in each House of Congress.
"The Senate and the House have to vote separately when we change the names of schools, streets, or appropriate funds for a plebiscite, with more reason should we vote separately on proposed changes to the Constitution," Escudero said.
He said that the anti-chacha opposition in the Senate can either challenge the House move before the Supreme Court or confer with the proponents to know exactly the objectives of the political exercise.
"We could try to talk them out of it. They know very well that they won't get the numbers in the Senate," Escudero said.