File photo shows Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File
Drilon: House members pushing for 'doomed' charter change
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - December 16, 2019 - 3:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — Any move pushing for charter change is doomed as the upper chamber will not prioritize proposals to amend the Constitution, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Monday.

Drilon made the remark after the House committee on constitutional amendments in a closed-door meeting last week approved an unnumbered resolution of both houses. The resolution seeks to lengthen the terms of congressmen and local government officials, and lift restrictions on foreign ownerships.

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

"It has the force and effect of a law if approved. There is no real difference between a bill and a joint resolution. The latter generally is used when dealing with a single item or issue, such as a continuing or emergency appropriations bill. Joint resolutions are also used for proposing amendments to the Constitution," it also says.

Drilon said that "if the House of Representatives would insist on passing Cha-cha (charter change), make it a point to include their return address because the Senate and the Filipino people will not accept it."

Term extension for local officials

The opposition lawmaker said the proposal of House legislators to extend their term is a self-serving move.

“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,” Drilon said.

The proposed RBH also seeks to elect the president and vice president in tandem and cut the term of senators to five years but increase their number from the current 24 to 27.

To successfully hurdle the House, the resolution will have to go through a second and third reading. It will then have to pass three readings in the Senate before it can be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said last week that charter change is not included on the to-do list of the chamber.

“Our counterparts in the lower house have the fighting spirit of a Filipino athlete. I do not want to dampen their spirit, but their Cha-cha is doomed,” Drilon said.

In his fourth State of the Nation Address, Duterte made no mention of his initiative to rewrite the constitution and install a federal form of government. But in an interview with Palace reporters after delivering his speech, the president said “it is not the proper time to be discussing it now.”

The Senate minority leader earlier said that his non-mention of charter change and federalism in his speech indicates that any push to change the Constitution has been laid to rest.

In December last year, the House of Representatives approved a draft federal charter on third and final reading. But the Senate killed the effort of the lower house, making good their promise to send the measure to the graveyard.

CHARTER CHANGE FRANKLIN DRILON
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