Juan Ponce Enrile wants to increase number of Senators to 48

·Contributor
·2 min read
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Philippine senate president and presiding judge in the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, explains his vote at the conclusion of the trial in Manila May 29, 2012. As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s chief legal counsel, he recommended in a Senate hearing to increase the number of senators to 48. (Photo: REUTERS/Bullit Marquez/Pool)
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Philippine senate president and presiding judge in the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, explains his vote at the conclusion of the trial in Manila May 29, 2012. As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s chief legal counsel, he recommended in a Senate hearing to increase the number of senators to 48. (Photo: REUTERS/Bullit Marquez/Pool)

During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile proposed increasing the number of members of the Senate to 48, in order to match the increasing population of the country.

Enrile said there’s already a need to double the current Senate membership because “at the time of the adoption of the 1935 Constitution, we are only 12 million people.”

Enrile, who also criticized the 1987 Constitution during the same committee hearing, said that in the 1935 Constitution, 24 senators were elected and divided into three – those who would serve a six-year term, the second with four-year terms, and the third would serve for two years.

Binago iyan ng 1987 Constitution. 24 pero one-half of the members must be elected every six years. Delikado iyan. They didn’t understand why, under the 1935 Constitution, the wise men of the Philippines – kung sinu-sino diyan na magagaling ang utak – ginawa nilang 24 but every two years, exposed to the mandate of the people [the] eight of this 24 people and 16 will remain standing all the time,” Enrile said.

(They changed it under the 1987 Constitution. 24 senators, but one-half of the members must be elected every six years. That’s dangerous. They didn’t understand why, under the 1935 Constitution, the wise men of the Philippines — those with the greatest minds — made it 24 but every two years, eight of them would be exposed to the people's mandate, while 16 would remain standing all the time.)

Enrile said that 16 out of the 48 senators will have to “go out every two years to be elected by the people” in order for “new, fresh and modernized minds will enter the system,” and the reason why there’s a need to change eight senators every two years is to make sure that a supermajority of the senators, or two-thirds, are “in place at any given time without any interregnum.”

He also said that in times of turmoil such as war, invasion, rebellion, pandemic, and others, there is a supermajority of senators who could be depended on to maintain the government.

​​Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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