No rush with bills proposing to amend the Constitution, says Rodriguez
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives committee chairperson on constitutional amendments has assured opposition lawmakers that proposals to amend the Constitution would not be rushed as these would be “thoroughly discussed.”
During the committee’s first hearing on Wednesday, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas raised concerns about the bills — like House Bill (HB) No. 4926, which calls for forming a constitutional convention by December 2023 — would not be rushed like other bills.
“I hope this committee, we will truly delve into the details of the measures we are about to take. Mr. Chair, as a manifestation, I hope we do not fast-track discussions on these and that we should listen to all sectors — not only those in Congress but more importantly, those outside, we should listen to their opinion and understanding of measures that we want to pass,” Brosas said.
“I hope this will not, we will not (fast-track) this like the other measures last time, where in just about three days we have discussed it at the plenary. I hope we could give a chance for everybody to be heard, especially experts and panelists who are not only present through Zoom and online hearings, but also those who listen to us,” she added.
In response, committee chairperson and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said he agrees with Brosas, assuring the Gabriela lawmaker that the committee secretariat would ask all solons present for a list of resource persons who would be invited in the said discussions.
“The Chair fully agrees with Congresswoman Brosas, this will be discussed thoroughly, all organizations and persons interested to participate in the committee hearing will be welcome, and so we will ask, in fact, our members who are present to give us names of organizations and persons that the committee secretary will invite,” Rodriguez said.
“And certainly this will not be, we are not going to rush this, these are very important resolutions filed on the fundamental law, the basic law of the land, so we cannot therefore hurry this up,” he added.
Rodriguez added that hearings on the proposed amendments to the Constitution should also be made in the provinces to hear the people’s voices.
“And I agree that we will conduct hearings not only here in Manila, different organizations in Metro Manila, we are going to the provinces so that we will be able to hear all the people of our country in the different regions,” he explained.
“So we assure Congresswoman Brosas that we are going to have everyone who wish to participate be invited to speak on any of these measures that we have already seen,” he added.
The panel during the hearing listened to the authors and proponents of the eight bills, including HB No. 4926 from Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. LRay Villafuerte.
Villafuerte’s bill seeks changes in the foreign ownership of a business. Under the proposal, the constitutional convention will be composed of elected members, one from each of the country’s 243 legislative districts.
None of the bills were passed during the initial hearing as discussions focused more on when the hearings would be heard, considering that it may be hard to schedule hearings on a Wednesday due to the session and also on Thursdays when lawmakers return to their respective provinces.
Eventually, it was agreed upon that the next hearing would be held on January 26, 2023.
On Wednesday, the Makabayan bloc, which Brosas is a part of, warned the public about a possible push for charter change or Cha-Cha, as the said committee was set to deliberate bills seeking constitutional amendments.
Makabayan maintained that the people do not need Cha-Cha, urging Congress to focus instead on helping Filipinos cope with inflation.