Charter Change: Unicameral or Bicameral congress

Earlier this afternoon, in our mock Constitutional Convention, the assembly convened as a committee of the whole, took up tackled briefly the issue of whether or not the Philippine legislative department be switched from the present bicameral congress into a unicameral congress.

It was proposed to switch to a unicameral congress for the following reasons that I can best recall:

  • Faster enactment of laws – since there would only be one single body to deliberate and pass legislation.
  • A closer cooperation between the Executive and Legislative branches of the government.

While the above mentioned reasons are meritorious, I cannot help but beg to disagree because of the prevailing political landscape in the Philippines. With Congress and the government itself being a dominated by a ruling elite oligarchy, fusing congress into a unicameral body would only fuse and further concentrate political power into their hands. It will drown out and totally silence the voice of the poor Filipinos who make up more than 50% of the total population.

Against this back drop, the beauty of a bicameral congress comes into play. For a clear illustration, allow me to quote the reasons adopted by the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the present 1987 Constitution as enumerated by one of its renowned members, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ*:

  1. an upper house is a body that looks at problems from the national perspective and thus serves as a check on the parochial tendency of a body elected by districts,
  2. bicameralism allows for a more careful study of legislation, and
  3. bicameralism is less vulnerable to attempts of the executive to control the legislature.

Looking back at how the combination of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo controlling of the Executive branch while her loyal cabal dominating the House of Representatives has plunged our country into deeper divisions, poverty, crises and basically screwed us all, the picture of a unicameral congress dominated by them would be a like jumping from the frying pan straight into hell.

This is the very reason why the people have resisted her machinations into amending the Constitution many times over during her term. And this is still the very same reason why the people have become weary of her becoming a member of the House of Representatives, along with her cabal of traditional politicians, which is another shot at pushing through with Charter change for their own selfish interests.

Sadly, this fact was forgotten by my classmates when they overwhelmingly voted for the proposal to switch from the present bicameral congress into a unicameral one.

Fortunately, the rules of Parliamentary procedure are in the minority’s side, those who oppose the proposal, because we can move for reconsideration of the adoption on the grounds that the issue was not thoroughly debated on due to time constraints. A maneuver I will attempt to accomplish come Thursday’s session.

If it was up to you, what would you prefer? A unicameral congress or the present system we have, a bicameral congress?

*Bernas, SJ, J. G. (2006, February 13). Jointly or separately. Philippine Daily Inquirer,

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