House: RBH6 won’t lead to parliamentary system

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
House: RBH6 won�t lead to parliamentary system
Senators wear maroon armbands to show opposition to the attempts to amend the Constitution on January 29, 2024, signifying their strong resolve to uphold the nation's democratic processes.
Jesse Bustos / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — Introducing “economic only” changes in the 1987 Constitution, as contained in Resolution of Both Houses 6, can never be a basis for a shift to parliamentary form of government, according to House leaders.

“Let’s stick to the facts of what we transmitted to the Senate,” House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe told a news briefing late Wednesday, dousing cold water on former president Rodrigo Duterte’s claims that Speaker Martin Romualdez will become prime minister if this prospers.

“The suspicion that we are trying to do this, to have somebody become a prime minister or something, records will prove us, and let’s check what we have transmitted to the Senate. That is not a secret, those are public records,” Dalipe argued.

He challenged senators to show the public a copy of RBH 6 if indeed political changes have been incorporated in the measure. “We challenge them to check the records of the Senate of what we transmitted,” he said.

“There’s nothing political there. So I don’t know where they got that, and that’s very clear – what we have transmitted are only for economic provisions. We really feel that in each and every Congress, and all of the speakers, we’re trying to push to update that 37-year-old Constitution,” Dalipe said.

Duterte claimed that once a parliamentary form of government is established, Romualdez would become prime minister and he would be succeeded by President Marcos’ son – senior deputy majority leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, said Duterte’s claim “has no constitutional and legal basis.”

“People’s initiative cannot change the form or system of government. We are unitary, we cannot change it to federal through people’s initiative… We cannot also change a bicameral form of government into a unicameral form, because the PI will only be for amendments,” he said.

“We therefore can see that there is no basis on that and also on the law on people’s initiative, clearly amendments lang. So it can never happen to this PI that there can be a change to parliamentary to have elections for prime minister,” the former law dean explained.

“And so therefore that is very clear: it has no legal and constitutional basis to say that PI is for perpetuation of power, election of prime minister and that is very clear,” Rodriguez added.

For his part, Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit, who heads the Nationalist People’s Coalition bloc in the House, said a people’s initiative and even Congress sitting as a constituent assembly cannot change the nation’s system of government.

“That can only be done by way of a constitutional convention of representatives elected by the people in a separate election. We are not the ones who will be doing that. It’s very clear that it is not on the table,” he said.

He recalled that the House under the present Congress had pushed for the calling of a constitutional convention in its version of RBH 6 because the Senate did not act on the larger chamber’s constituent assembly proposal in the previous Congress.

“Economic provisions only, voting separately, they (senators) have always rejected,” he said.

“So, our thinking this year, if you really don’t want it, then perhaps we can try the other one – RBH 6 or the House version. So, with the latest development if you don’t want our version, then take up your version of RBH 6, if only for us to have started something at this point,” Duavit stressed.

He was referring to the Senate version of RBH 6 authored by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Sonny Angara.     

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