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Bastusan na! Tony La Viña thinks Cha-Cha could happen without Senate’s nod. Here’s how

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The Duterte administration might succeed in overhauling the 1987 Constitution even without the Senate’s participation, law professor Tony La Viña said.

In his July 10 column for the Manila Standard, La Viña said the House of Representatives can submit the draft Constitution to the Commission on Elections for approval in a plebiscite.

“Once the plebiscite is done and the people approve the constitution, the political question doctrine can be used by the Supreme Court to legitimize an unconstitutional adoption of a new constitution,” the former dean of the Ateneo School of Government said.

While the scenario seems implausible, La Viña said the removal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from office has shown that “an innovative, some say distorted, interpretation of straightforward constitutional text can be found to justify a political outcome.”

President Rodrigo Duterte prefers Charter change (Cha-Cha) to be done by Congress convening as a constituent assembly to save on the cost and speed up the deliberation of amendments.

However, members of the House of Representatives and Senate differ on how they should vote on the proposed amendments.

House leaders have said the two chambers should vote jointly on the changes while senators insist on voting separately.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday (July 11) said only four of his colleagues favor a shift to federalism.

He also admitted he does not have the required three-fourths vote of 18 senators to propose changes to the Constitution.