MANILA, Philippines?From ?Mr. Palengke? to ?boy Bawang.?
Malacańang Thursday fired back at Sen. Manuel ?Mar? Roxas II for criticizing the administration over the House of Representatives? constituent assembly resolution, calling him ?Boy Bawang.?
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?s deputy spokesperson, Anthony Golez, was reacting to Roxas? impassioned privilege speech in which he labeled House Resolution No. 1109 a ?con-asswang.?
?We respect that kind of gimmicky because before it was ?[Mr.] Palengke? and now it?s ?Boy Bawang,?? Golez said at a press briefing.
Roxas? tri-media ads in the run-up to the 2004 senatorial elections showed him in a wet market (palengke) as the champion of poor consumers.
On Wednesday, Roxas brought leis of bawang (garlic) to the Senate floor as he denounced the passage of HR 1109 as a kaaswangan.
Aswang in Philippine folklore is a vampire-like creature that preys on small children and the dead.
In the constituent assembly (Con-ass) called by HR 1109, the House and the Senate will vote jointly on amendments to the Constitution, a situation in which senators will be outvoted by the more numerous House members.
Opponents of the resolution claim that Con-ass would pave the way for a shift to a parliamentary form of government to keep Ms Arroyo in power.
Roxas said garlic was the best defense against aswang. ?Boy Bawang? is also the name of a popular corn snack.
Asked by one reporter if the senator was making a fool of himself, Golez replied: ?It is not I who said that.?
In his speech, Roxas challenged Ms Arroyo to declare whether she was for or against HR 1109.
Malacańang Thursday continued to distance itself from the controversial resolution, insisting that the administration was all ?geared up? for the May 2010 elections.
Golez asked critics of Charter change to settle down even if administration lawmakers ?railroaded? the passage of HR 1109 on Tuesday.
Groups representing various sectors have vowed to block the effort and are set to stage a massive protest action next week.
20M for each House member?
?They should not be an alarmist,? Golez said in Filipino. ?There is a process in pushing for Charter change and that is what Congress is following. Anyway, we will see if [lawmakers] are violating this process.?
Golez maintained that Ms Arroyo ?must step down in 2010? as prescribed in the 1987 Constitution.
He noted that the merger of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi)?hitherto the biggest ruling parties?meant that the 2010 elections would push through.
Malacańang also denied any knowledge of the allegation that around P20 million had been promised to each member of the House in exchange for his or her support for HR 1109.
?What?s funny is that they can say any number to their delight, but proving it is another story,? Golez said. ?Officially, we do not know anything about this.?