Senators think charter change still has a long way to go in 18th Congress

Maris Federez   •   July 10, 2019   •   906

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

Some senators are still not sold on the idea of instilling changes in the 1987 Constitution in the 18th Congress.

This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s manifestations of pursuing the charter change.

Senator Franklin Drilon said it is still uncertain as to how senators will vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

Drilon said, “(It is) difficult to predict at this time how the senators will vote. Senate prides itself as independent of Malacañang.”

“Plus, I sense that a number of my colleagues have a “moist eye” on the Presidency in 2022, and may not support an amendment which may lead to a shift to federalism,” he added.

Liberal Party president, Senator Francis Pangilinan, who held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, meanwhile, said the fate of the charter change will depend on composition of the Senate.

“That all depends on the majority. We will see how it goes given the new composition of the Senate,” Pangilinan said.

Senator Ralph Recto, on the other hand, said he still wants to have the cha-cha proposal scrutinized.

“We’ll have to take a look at details of the cha-cha proposal,” he said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, believes that majority of the senators have not wavered in their stance regarding the charter change.

 “It’s a little more complicated than what the President and the House want. Why? We are simply back to the same question, which is to clarify the ambiguity of the provision in the Constitution that deals with the manner of voting by Congress constituting itself into a constituent assembly,” Lacson said.

He further said, “Again, in doing so, we are faced with a chicken and egg situation. If it’s via ConCom, do we have enough time to accomplish it before the end of his term?”

Neophyte senator Francis Tolentino, however, believes that the passage of the proposed change in the form of government can still happen during President Duterte’s term.

“Tapos na yung preparatory work ng ConCom. Yung ginawa ni former Justice Puno [The preparatory work in ConCom is finished. What former Justice Puno did], it was commissioned by the executive branch. May napadala na silang report at nasa infancy stage na yung kauna unahang version nito yung sa Bangsamoro. Hindi pa siguro huli ang lahat [They were able to send their report and the very first version of it – the Bangsamor- is already at the infancy stage. Maybe it’s not yet too late,” Tolentino said.

The proposed charter change was able to slightly move in the Lower House during the 17th Congress.

It was, however, stalled in the Senate until the Congress adjourned. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

House OKs resolution on longer terms for Congressmen, local officials

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 13, 2019

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments has passed an unnumbered resolution seeking several constitutional amendments including a five-year term extension for congressmen and local officials.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said local officials can fully implement their platforms if their terms will be extended to five years.

“On the first term you make your program, you study then you’ll be able to make that plan. On the second year the local officials and the members of the House of Representatives will be implementing [the plan]. On the third year, they are now campaigning, so where is the real public service there?” he said.

Rodriguez also wants the plenary debates to begin by next week and expect the resolution to be passed by January 2020.

Other proposed constitutional amendments include legislative flexibility for foreign investments; tandem voting for president and vice president, and election of senators by region (with proposal dividing the Philippines to nine regions).

However, Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat said the resolution did not go through proper process.

“Nagtataka ako kung bakit kailangan pang i-executive session ang pinapanukala nilang charter change na ito na hindi sumusunod sa mga tamang paraan para amyendahan ang Konstitusyon (I am wondering why there is a need for an executive session for the proposed charter change which does not follow the proper process in amending the Constitution),” she said.

“Mukhang gusto lang talaga nilang madaliin ang pagpasa nito at gulatin ang mamamayan (It seems like they just want to expedite the process and surprise the citizens),” she added.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Senate OKs bill seeking to extend validity of firearms licenses

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 10, 2019

(FILE) Filipinos look at Beretta pistols displayed for sale at a gun exhibition in Mandaluyong City, east of Manila, Philippines, 16 November 2017. EPA-EFE/EUGENIO LORETO

The Senate, on Monday (December 9), has passed a bill for third and final reading, seeking to extend the validity of firearms licenses from two years to five years.

With 20 votes in favor, zero against and zero abstention, the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 1155 which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10591 or the “Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”.

Under the measure, the registration of a firearm shall be renewed every five years from the birth date of the licensee.

“Failure to renew the registration of the firearm on or before the date of its expiration shall cause the revocation of the license. The said firearm shall be confiscated or forfeited in favor of the government after due process,” according to the bill.

During his sponsorship speech, Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa said that a lack of practical renewal policies hinders gun owners from renewing their firearms.

“In a country like ours, gun ownership is a privilege that is hidden behind numerous documentary requirements and countless conditions that must be met; then and only then can one avail of such privilege,” he said.

“We are for the promotion of safety measures. We are for the protection of our people. But surely, and that is what this bill ensures, it would be better if it would not take a mountain of work for us to do so,” he added.—AAC

Senate to discuss bills seeking to create water agency

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The proposed measures seeking to establish a central water agency that would focus on water, sewerage and sanitation are set to be discussed at the Senate on Wednesday, Dec. 11.

The hearing will be jointly conducted by the Senate committees on public services, civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation, ways and means and finance.

“We need a lead agency whose ultimate responsibility would be the provision of adequate and safe water supply, not just for household and commercial needs, but for our farms,” Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the committee on public services said in a statement.

“What we currently have is a fragmented regulatory framework for water that has limited powers, which has a significant impact on the delivery of water and sanitation services in the country,” she added.

The hearing will tackle the eight bills seeking the creation of a water agency that are pending before the committee. These were filed by Poe, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Lito Lapid and Ramon Revilla Jr.

It will also discuss the three bills proposing the creation of a Department of Water Resources Management filed by Senators Manny Pacquiao, Francis Tolentino and Ronald Dela Rosa.

Poe said the hearing will also offer an opportunity to discuss questions about the government contracts with water concessionaires, Maynilad and Manila Water.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier slammed the water firms for the alleged ‘onerous’ provisions in their concession agreements which were signed with the government in 1997.

The lawmaker expressed optimism that the Senate can pass its version of the water agency bill soon, emphasizing that the water bill is among the President’s list of priority legislature.

“We want assurance of the people’s right to clean and steady supply of water,” she said.

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