The Supreme Court cannot interfere in the process of amending the constitution, according to former Chief Justice Reynato Puno.
"Former Chief Justice Puno is of the view that the Supreme Court cannot interfere in the process of amending the constitution and how the constitution should be amended, because this is a political exercise and a political question, beyond the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court," Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said.
Responding to questions raised by Drilon whether the Supreme Court can compel Senate to act on the House resolution calling for a constituent assembly, Puno said: "The Supreme Court still does not have jurisdiction to accommodate and decide questions that are political in character. The issue that we are talking about is a political question."
At the hearing, Drilon asked the former chief justice: "If we do not act on the House resolution calling for a constitutional assembly, the issue cannot be brought to the Supreme Court?" to which Puno replied in affirmative.
"The resolution is lost and you cannot be subject to a writ of mandamus," Puno added.
Drilon also pointed to Puno's earlier statement saying, "A no vote in the Senate cannot be reviewed by the Supreme Court because it is a political question. In response, Puno said, "That's right. It is a political decision and the Senate will only be answerable to the people."
Drillon responded, "We must not forget that while the Supreme Court is supreme in interpreting the Constitution, we are co-equal branch. We have our own powers. We have our own interpretation," Drilon said.
In an interview at the sidelines of the hearing, the minority leader said that he completely agrees with the former chief justice. "I concur with the observation of former CJ Puno that the Supreme Court cannot interfere in the process of amending the constitution, because it is a political question and such power is explicitly lodged with the Congress."
"The Supreme Court cannot interfere in the process of amending the Constitution because amending the constitution constitutes a political exercise and a political question, outside of the sphere of power of the Supreme Court," Drilon said.
Drilon said the court cannot compel Congress to vote jointly or separately as the decision is "left to the discretion of Congress" being the branch of government tasked to amend the constitution.
"The process of amending the constitution is a political process lodged in Congress itself, not with the President nor the Supreme Court. Whether or not we vote separately, the Supreme Court cannot interfere," Drilon said.
Drilon also maintained that both houses should vote separately.
He said there was a consensus among the senators that they should vote separately.
He said that the bicameral nature of the legislative branch "leaves no doubt that there should be a separate voting."
"Changing the name of a high school or changing the name of a road would require the concurrence of the senate as a separate institution. How much more in amending the constitution and changing the form of government?" Drilon said.
Source: Senate of the Philippines