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Ordo Luminis Legis Inc.
2009 Bar Operations
Compiled by
Atty. Rogelio A. Pocallan, Jr.

There is a 4th o!e" #$t no %th o!e
Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Under the 1987 Constitution the basic proision says! "Any amendment to, or reision o#,
this Constitution may be proposed by! $1% &he Con&ress, upon a ote o# three'#ourths o#
all its (embers) or $*% A 'onstit$tiona( 'on)ention.+ ,econdarily, amendments may
also be proposed by "initiati)e an! re*eren!$.+
Clearly, amendments may be proposed by a constitutional conention. -o.eer, it is not
clear no. ho. a constitutional conention comes into e/istence. &he constitutional te/t
says! "&he Congress may, by a ote o# t.o'thirds o# all its (embers, call a constitutional
conention, or by a ma0ority ote o# all its (embers, submit to the electorate the 1uestion
o# calling such a conention.+ (ust Congress ote on this in 0oint session or may the t.o
houses call #or a conention through separate sessions2 3e hae not yet begun #ighting
oer this.
Clearly, too, Congress may decide not to call a conention and do the proposing o#
amendments by itsel#. &his is .here the controersy is at the moment.
&here is tal4 about Congress conerting itsel# into a "constituent assembly.+ &o my mind,
this is super#luous tal4. B+ the *a't that the Constit$tion e,p(i'it(+ an!ates Con&ress
to propose aen!ents" Con&ress is a(rea!+ a 'onstit$ent asse#(+. 5t .as di##erent
under the 1967 Constitution because then, #or Congress to become a constituent assembly
capable o# proposing amendments, it had to be called to a 0oint session. 8ur Congress
no., as Congress, has been mandated to propose amendments and is there#ore already a
constituent assembly. 9ut ho. Congress should do the proposing is the problem.
9atch Consanguinitas Ad Infinitum) *::; U,& <a..
=rom the economical language o# the Constitution one may see that the Constitution has
gien Congress the discretion to decide ho. to do it. 9ut the discretion granted is not
unlimited. 3hat are the limits2
&he #undamental limit is that proposals must be made by Congress. And since Congress
consists o# -ouse and ,enate, neither one nor the other may be e/cluded. Proposal by one
alone .ould not be proposal by Congress.
-o.eer, .hereas the 1967 Constitution re1uired that in proposing amendments
Congress must be "in 0oint session assembled,+ in the 1987 Constitution there is no such
re1uirement. -ence, Congress no. is #ree to do it either in 0oint session or in separate
&he idea o# "separate sessions+ is an element o# .hat is no. being re#erred to as the
#ourth method. And logically, since the t.o houses .ould be in separate sessions, each
house .ould be re1uired separately to ote by a three'#ourths ma0ority.
>either, ho.eer, does the 1987 Constitution prohibit a "0oint session.+ -ence, Con&ress
a+ propose aen!ents in -oint session. Nor /o$(! s$'h 0-oint session1 )io(ate
the #i'aera( 'hara'ter o* Con&ress. What /o$(! )io(ate the #i'aera( 'hara'ter o*
Con&ress is a -oint )ote *or !eterinin& the three2*o$rths a-orit+.
&he implicit re1uirement o# separate )otin& is dictated by the #i'aera( 'hara'ter o*
Con&ress. 9icameralism has been adopted precisely #or the purpose o# ensuring that
important decisions be reached separately by the t.o -ouses. 5t is #or this reason that
bills become la. by separate otes. Constitutional amendments are more important than
ordinary bills.
Brie*(+ then" /hat are the o!es o* proposin& aen!ents3
4. 'onstit$tiona( 'on)ention.
2. 0initiati)e an! re*eren!$.1
5. Con&ress in -oint session asse#(e! #$t )otin& separate(+.
4. Con&ress in separate sessions an! #+ three2*o$rths )otes ea'h.
5s there a #i#th mode2 &he proposal coming #rom some elements in the -ouse to i&nore
the Senate 'an #e 'a((e! a *i*th o!e. 5t runs smac4 against the bicameral character o#
Congress. 5t has no #uture.