Charter change still not a priority of Senate — Sotto
The proposed Charter change (Cha-cha), which could pave the way to the country’s shift to a federal form government, is still not a priority in the upper Chamber, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Monday.
“Sa ngayon wala akong masasabi na ito’y magiging priority sapagkat ni hindi pa kami agreed on our calendar, on the legislative calendar of the Senate… Wala pa, we cannot even say that we can prioritize (it),” Sotto said in an interview with reporters.
READ: Duterte’s Con-com OKs final draft of federal Constitution
The Senate leader also reiterated his earlier statement that the approved draft federal Charter of the 22-member Consultative Committee (Con-com) is still up for the scrutiny of Congress, once it agrees to convene as Constituent assembly (Con-ass).
READ: Draft federal Charter subject to deliberations of Con-ass – Sotto
“Nothing is written in stone. Ang magiging written in stone kung ano ang pinasa ng Con-ass if we do call for a Con-ass,” he said.
READ: Draft federal Charter not etched in stone–Sotto
Under a Con-ass, the power to amend the 1987 Constitution will be given to sitting legislator while under a Constitutional Convention (Con-con), it will given to individuals who will be elected by the people in a plebiscite.
Sotto said Con-ass would be a more viable option.
“If we really have to discuss the change in our Charter, the easiest way is Con-ass, instead of a Con-con. A con-con perhaps is a better vehicle, but how long will it take and how much would it cost,” he said.
Like Sotto, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who is also president of the ruling political party PDP-Laban advocating federalism, said he prefers Con-ass as the mode of amending the Constitution.
“I cannot be 100 percent certain, pero ako, if you ask me, ang personal preference ko Congress na lang should propose amendments to the Constitution or revision sitting as a so-called constituent assembly. And I believe sa House ganyan din ang sentimyento, sa Senate may chance yun eh. May fighting chance yung constituent assembly,” Pimentel said.
On allowing Duterte to seek new term
Meanwhile, to quell fears that President Rodrigo Duterte may run again for president under Con-com’s draft charter, Pimentel proposed that all presidents elected under the 1987 Constitution be barred from running for president under the new federal charter.
READ: Draft charter allows Duterte to seek new term
“Since si President Duterte naman talaga ay hindi naman interesado to stay a second longer than the term to which he was elected, tanggalin na lang natin ‘yung provision na ‘yan na allowing the incumbent president to run again for president under the new constitution,” Pimentel said.
“Pero para naman sabihin natin na hindi lang din ‘yan sa kanya naka-focus, to disqualify him, gawin natin the incumbent president as well as all persons who held the position of president under the 1987 constitution shall be ineligible to run for president under the new constitution,” he said.
“Patas. We are not favoring the incumbent president but we are not targeting for disqualification only the incumbent president,” he added. /vvp
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.