Lawmakers divided on manner of amending Constitution

admin   •   December 27, 2017   •   4967


MANILA, Philippines — It was on the 7th of December in 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order (EO) that creates the 25-member constitutional commission.

The members of the commission are tasked to craft the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

One year has already passed since the President issued the said EO, but until now, Malacañang has yet to release the names of the supposed members of the commission.

Despite this, the lawmakers in the House of Representatives continue to debate on the plenary regarding the proposed charter change through a constituent assembly.

According to Deputy House Minority Leader and member of the Committee on Rules Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr., the Senate seems to be no longer keen on discussing the proposed constitutional amendment.

“We have to determine first whether Senate is amenable to convene a constituent assembly because now, with their body language, it seems they are no longer keen,” said Garbin.

The two chambers of Congress are still divided on the manner in which to amend the constitution that would pave way for the President’s proposal to shift the form of government to federalism.

Even the manner of voting of lawmakers in case they can convene in a constitutional assembly remains an issue for the solons and senators.

“Because the Senate will not agree to vote jointly, it is voting separately,” said the deputy minority leader.

Before the Senate went on a session break, Senate President Aquilino Koko Pimentel said it would be better if the executive department would release its proposed amendment in order for the two congressional houses to begin discussing the charter change.

Pimentel also noted the Senate will find a way to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment even though the Lower House is pushing through with bringing the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to the higher chamber of Congress.

The House of Representatives and the Senate also targets to convene next year to begin the deliberations on the proposed amendment of the 1987 Constitution. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

House solon wants charter change proposals shelved ‘indefinitely’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2020

Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez

MANILA, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday said he will propose the suspension of deliberations on the controversial charter change (Cha-Cha) proposals amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, said he is inclined to recommend to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to “shelve Cha-Cha indefinitely” to focus on discussing measures to address the public health crisis and help the Filipino people prepare for the ‘new normal’.

The lawmaker made the proposal following claims that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and other advocates initiated moves to gather up to two million signatures in support of Cha-Cha.

“This is not the time for the DILG and its allies to relaunch their signature drive and renew their push for Cha-cha. They should postpone it until this health crisis is over,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“So my message to Cha-cha advocates and their DILG patrons is: stop it, it won’t fly while there is a pandemic,” he added.

Rodriguez said pushing for Cha-Cha can wait as Congress will first have to attend to measures that will “save lives and the livelihood of our people.”

The DILG earlier denied it has launched a signature campaign for Cha-Cha, branding these reports as fake news. RRD (with details from Correspondent Vincent Arboleda)

Cha-Cha sees no progress in Senate

Marje Pelayo   •   December 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Several senators seem adamant on catering to the House of Representatives’ (HOR) proposed Charter change.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said such a proposal is not a priority at this time adding that the Senate is not considering accepting it after the HOR approved its version of the bill.

The Lower House proposes the following amendments to the Constitution:

1. Legislative flexibility for foreign Investments

2. Tandem voting for president and vice president

3. Election of senators by region (with proposal dividing PH to 9 regions)

4. 5-year term for local officials and Congressmen

House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairman Rufus Rodriguez is asking the senators to take time to study their proposal before deciding to drop it.

“I hope that the senators, instead of saying, it’s doomed, it’s not a priority, should look into every proposal: are they good for the country or not? That is the main issue there,” Rodriguez argued.

The lawmaker also denied allegations that the bill is “self-serving” on the part of the congressmen and that they have personal interests in pushing the proposed amendments.

“If this is approved it will only apply to those elected in 2022. All of us will go to the elections of 2022,” Rodriguez said.

“We are not extending our terms,” he added.

The Surigao Del Sur Representative stressed that the bill underwent public consultation from various sectors across the country.

The Lower House lawmakers are expected to debate on the measure at the plenary come February next year which may run for two months, according to Rodriguez. – MNP (with details from Vincent Arboleda)

Senators on new House charter change resolution: ‘Not a priority’

Robie de Guzman   •   December 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Some senators remain indifferent to the proposal of the House of Representatives to amend the provisions of the Philippine 1987 Constitution.

According to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, charter change is not among the Senate’s priority agenda.

“It’s not a priority in the Senate. It’s not in any committees, there’s no resolution filed. We are not talking about it,” he told reporters in a press briefing Monday.

Sotto’s statement was in response to the passage of a House resolution proposing amendments to the Constitution.

The unnumbered resolution, which was approved in a closed-door meeting last week by the House constitutional amendments committee led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, seeks to relax the economic restrictions stated in the country’s charter, and lengthen the terms of local government officials, congressmen and senators to five years and three terms.

Under the present charter, a senator can serve for six years and run for two consecutive times while congressmen and local officials can serve for three years and three consecutive terms.

Although the proposal will not be discussed, the Senate said it will not stop the Lower House from convening as Constituent Assembly to tackle the draft charter change.

A resolution of both houses or a joint resolution requires the approval of both chambers and the signature of the president, according to the Senate’s website.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said that pushing for charter change is doomed without the Senate’s approval.

Drilon also advised congressmen who would insist on passing charter change to “make it a point to include their return address because the Senate and the Filipino people will not accept it.”

The opposition lawmaker also called the proposal of House lawmakers to extend their term as a “self-serving move.”

READ: House OKs resolution on longer terms for Congressmen, local officials

“The term extension is ill-conceived. It extinguishes all the good intentions they may have in mind in pushing for Cha-cha. We will oppose it,” he said in a statement.

He added that the non-mention of Cha-cha and federalism in the last state of the nation address of President Rodrigo Duterte was a clear message to Congress that Cha-cha is no longer a priority of the administration.

“Apparently, the message was lost on the members of the House of Representatives. I had said it before and I will say it once more, Cha-cha is dead,” Drilon said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros also said the passage of the House resolution on charter change would not prosper if submitted to the Senate just like what happened in the past.

“Dati na nating nakita ang kapareho na Resolution of both House sa panahon ni [former president Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo. At the time, it was dead in the water dito sa Senado. I’m confident bilang bahagi ng Senate minority at si Senator Kiko [Pangilinan] ang chair ng Senate committee on constitutional amendments, if that would be sent here, it will also arrive dead in the water ditto sa Senado,” she said in a media interview.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa expressed doubt on whether Duterte will still be able to implement the reforms he is pushing if the charter would be amended, adding that he would support it if it includes a shift to federalism.  

“Baka kulang na ng oras, short na ang oras at panahon ni President Duterte, hindi na niya make-carry out ang gusto niyang mga pagbabago na gagawin pero still kung pupwede pa, go ahead, suporta ako diyan,” he told reporters in a separate interview. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)


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