Senators won’t go along with Cha-cha

Cecille Suerte Felipe, Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Senators won�t go along with Cha-cha
Charter change was one of the “pressing urgent concerns” discussed during an all-member Senate caucus on Wednesday, less than two weeks before the resumption of the second regular session of the 19th Congress on Jan. 22.
Boy Santos , file

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate would most likely not support the effort of the House of Representatives to have the 1987 Constitution amended, with many congressmen insisting that Congress would vote jointly and not separately.

Charter change was one of the “pressing urgent concerns” discussed during an all-member Senate caucus on Wednesday, less than two weeks before the resumption of the second regular session of the 19th Congress on Jan. 22.

Sixteen senators attended the session.

While senators are bound to uphold the secrecy of discussions in an executive session, some of them issued statements to the media expressing their opposition to efforts to amend the Constitution.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva called to “stop the deception and threats just to prioritize the personal interests of those who are greedy to stay in office. Stop denying our countrymen aid just because they did not sign the petition of the so-called people’s initiative.”

“Let’s not deceive the people that we need Charter change to solve society’s problems. This is not the answer to stomach aches, unemployment, the coming El Niño and the constant increase in the price of basic commodities,” Villanueva added.

“Just be honest. We know that the real reason why they insist on dissolving the Senate is to control power under a unilateral or single Congress. Above all, they want to extend their terms,” he noted.

The national lead convenor of People’s Initiative for Reform Modernization and Action (PIRMA) revived its advocacy to amend the 1987 Constitution via the people’s initiative and admitted its goal is to see senators and congressmen “voting jointly” on Charter change proposals.

PIRMA national lead convenor Noel Oñate confirmed that his group was behind the signature campaign in various areas in the country. He added that PIRMA aims to finish the signature drive by June at the earliest and the signatures will be submitted to the Comelec.

Speaker Martin Romualdez said lawmakers will make another pitch for constitutional amendments this year, focusing on economic provisions deemed “very prohibitive.”

Like Villanueva, Senate Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito said, “There are too many problems to fix, too many challenges that need attention, early political bickering and Charter change will surely affect goals that have been laid down.”

“Personally, I would rather concentrate on surmounting these challenges. It’s all about timing,” Ejercito said.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri led the executive session held for about four hours but not all the 24 senators were able to attend the meeting in Makati City.

“The four-hour long meeting was well-attended, with 16 senators in attendance. A few senators were still on their break and were unable to join,” stated a Viber message from the office of Zubiri.

Aside from Zubiri, other senators present at the executive session were Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, Villanueva, Senators Nancy Binay, Ronald dela Rosa, Jinggoy Estrada, Sonny Angara, Ejercito, Mark Villar, Lito Lapid, Sherwin Gatchalian, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros and Francis Tolentino.

Senators Bong Go and Raffy Tulfo did not give any confirmation for the meeting. Some information indicated Go had to attend to family concerns while Tulfo had a conflict in schedule as he had to preside over a hearing of the Senate committee on energy, which he chairs.

Four senators sent regrets from abroad: Alan Peter Cayetano in Singapore, Imee Marcos, Robinhood Padilla in Europe and Grace Poe in the United States.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. failed to attend due to illness.

DSWD sets probe

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will look into the allegation of Senator Marcos that the agency’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) was being used to gather signatures in support of Charter change via people’s initiative.

“I will coordinate with the office of Sen. Imee so I can get the details and I can look into the matter immediately,” Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said on the sidelines of the 73rd founding anniversary of DSWD.

Gatchalian gave assurance AICS and other social protection programs of the DSWD “adhere strictly to their guidelines, with no additional requirements.”

He said he will make sure that all DSWD field offices are following the guidelines of these programs and “that no additional requirements will be asked from clients.”

“We implement our programs in accordance with guidelines and laws,” he said. “The DSWD does not participate in the ongoing people’s initiative.”

Perpetuation in power

Charter change through a people’s initiative being pushed by certain sectors is just a cover for President Marcos to stay in power beyond 2028, former DSWD secretary Judy Taguiwalo said on Friday.

Taguiwalo, convenor of People’s Summit, said proponents of Cha-cha are blaming the 1986 EDSA Revolution and the 1987 Constitution to absolve themselves from the inequalities made by worse by Marcos’ father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“Cha-cha for economic development is just a cover for the Marcos family’s plot to stay in power beyond 2028,” she said. “We reject this insidious attempt of the Marcoses to consolidate their hold on power on the pretext of pursuing reform and development.”

She said what is more important is for government to end the export-oriented, import-dependent, debt driven economic policies of the past and pursue national industrialization and genuine land reform as the foundation for developing domestic production and expanding employment and consumption. – Sheila Crisostomo, Bella Cariaso, Emmanuel Tupas, Ghio Ong

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with