Robin Padilla rants over Cabinet no-shows in Cha-cha hearing
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Robin Padilla made no effort to hide the “little” resentment he felt toward some Cabinet officials who either skipped or only sent representatives to a hearing on Friday about his chosen advocacy—Charter change (Cha-cha) and the shift to a parliamentary form of government.
The Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, which he chairs, had invited as resource speakers Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos.
Only Carlos showed up while Diokno and Balisacan assigned representatives who participated online.
Lotilla had no one to represent him, but he sent a letter to Padilla explaining that “Inasmuch as we have no opportunity to consider and review the House and Senate resolutions [on Charter change] in relation to the mandate of the DOE (Department of Energy), may we respectfully request that we … be allowed to submit written comments at a later date after due internal study.”
The movie star-turned-senator, known for actions flicks where he played either a brooding toughie or a lover boy who wears his heart on his sleeve, vented his frustration in Filipino.
“I will just rant a little about what happened, because I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for the Senate to invite some secretaries,” Padilla said. “When we invite those from the executive, please accommodate us because we’re not here just to play ‘Marites’ or “Parites’ (current slang for a gossip).”
“Because if this is the system wherein we have to plead with the executive just so they could join us, then let’s just go parliamentary. Because under [that setup] they are obligated to face us,” he added. “I thought these people from the executive were our allies. If you are really our allies, then show up.’’
Not for ‘bobo’
With Padilla’s sentiments known and put on record, the committee proceeded with the day’s business.
Carlos cited the merits of having a parliamentary system, saying that “If you zipper your mouth there … you will be ousted in the next election.”
“That’s why no ‘bobo’ [idiot] can be a member of parliament …. I’m sorry for the use of the word, but I can’t find another one which is appropriate,” she said.
She pointed out that the word parliament comes from the French verb “parler,” to talk. “That’s why parliament is like a talking environment. You talk,”Carlos said.
But former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Solita Monsod, who was also invited to the hearing, argued against tinkering with the 1987 Constitution.
“I respect your opinion, Senator Padilla, but I stand by my opinion that it’s neither necessary nor sufficient,” Monsod said.
“I mean, is it necessary to change the Constitution because it’s 30 years old? … [T]he United States Constitution is over 200 years old,” she added.
Charter change has been a recurring political agenda in the country’s postwar history for over half a century. In 1971, President Marcos’ father and namesake called a constitutional convention (Con-con).
The assembly was marred by a scandal after delegate Eduardo Quintero’s exposé alleging that many of his colleagues in the Con-con were on Malacañang’s payroll.
The Con-con went on to produce the draft 1973 Constitution and saw its approval in citizens’ assemblies held while the country was under martial law. The Charter paved the way for a semiparliamentary system with the establishment of the Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly), even as Marcos Sr. continued to exercise legislative powers.
Soon after Marcos Sr.’s ouster through the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution, President Cory Aquino issued Proclamation No. 3, discarding the 1973 Constitution and establishing a commission that would draft the present Charter. It was ratified in a plebiscite the following year.
Calls for Cha-cha were made during the Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo administrations, particularly for a parliamentary system and other major amendments to the economic provisions.
They continued during the Duterte administration, this time mainly pushing for federalism.—WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
Robin Padilla fumes over absent executive execs in Cha-cha hearing
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