Arroyo agrees with Senate on separate Con-ass voting

MANILA House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday said she agrees with the Senate that both chambers of Congress should vote separately if it convenes into a constituent assembly (Con-ass) to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

In an ambush interview at the NLEX greening project event in Pampanga, Arroyo expressed her preference for the two chambers to vote separately in a Con-ass to "move forward" and put an end to the voting "stalemate".

"Yes payag [I agree with the Senate on voting separately]. We want to move forward, to be realistic. Better to move forward and achieve something rather than be stubborn and achieve nothing," Arroyo said.

She recalled that she ended her presidential term with a deadlocked Congress, failing to reach an agreement on the manner of voting for Charter change.

"I ended my presidency with the same stalemate. You remember, we have the same stalemate on voting separately and voting together and a few years later we are in the same stalemate," Arroyo said.

"We should move forward and the way to move forward is to agree to voting separately," she added.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez said Arroyo is ready to "work closely" with the Senate to advance the administration's push for federalism.

"We will be working closely with the Senate and find a common ground to push forward the approval of the federal Constitution. We will work hand-in-hand with them and invite the Senate to convene as a constituent assembly so that we can make the first step in moving forward on this issue," Benitez said.

"If it means we would accept the conditions of the Senate that we will vote separately, at this stage we are accepting that stand and if so much as to move forward and to be able to approve the concept of federal government or federal Constitution, we will accept the Senate's stand on that," he added.

The House has already approved Concurrent Resolution 9, seeking to convene Congress into a Con-ass, while the Senate has yet to pass its own version.

Several senators have insisted on separate voting on constitutional amendments as joint voting would drown out their votes against more than 200 votes of the lower chamber.

On the other hand, Arroyo's ousted predecessor, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, said the House can convene into a Con-ass even without the Senate. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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