Senate, House clash over people’s initiative for Charter change | Inquirer News

Senate, House clash over people’s initiative for Charter change

UNANIMOUS STAND All 24 senators show a signed manifesto expressing their opposition to the House of Representatives’ alleged moves to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative. —RICHARD A. REYES

UNANIMOUS STAND | All 24 senators show a signed manifesto expressing their opposition to the House of Representatives’ alleged moves to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative. (Photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The two chambers of Congress may be headed for a showdown as Senate leaders on Tuesday lambasted the House of Representatives for its supposed duplicity in continuing to push for Charter change through a people’s initiative after agreeing to pursue the process via a joint resolution.

In an unprecedented move, the 24-member Senate unanimously approved a manifesto opposing the people’s initiative, saying the process would undermine the country’s democracy as it proposed that Congress vote jointly on revising the 1987 Constitution.


“Today, the Senate once again stands as a bastion of democracy as it rejects this brazen attempt to violate the Constitution, the country and our people. This Senate of the people will not allow itself to be silenced,” the senators said in a manifesto read by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri during the plenary session.


“This singular and seemingly innocuous change in the Constitution will open the floodgates to a wave of amendments and revisions that will erode the nation as we know it,” they warned.

“To allow joint voting will destroy the delicate balance on which our hard-won democracy rests. It will destabilize the principle of bicameralism and our system of checks and balances,” the senators added.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said many of his colleagues had already lost interest in passing Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 (RBH 6) after learning that the chiefs of staff of several House members were the ones behind the nationwide campaign to collect signatures in support of the people’s initiative.

Challenge to speaker

Villanueva and Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito both challenged Speaker Martin Romualdez to speak up against the people’s initiative after Sen. Ronald dela Rosa claimed that district representatives had named Romualdez as behind the undertaking.

Romualdez earlier announced that the House would support the resolution filed by Zubiri limiting the proposed modifications to three specific economic provisions of the Constitution.

According to Zubiri, the resolution was a result of his consultation with Romualdez and President Marcos, who was allegedly also opposed to the people’s initiative (See related story on this page). “This is ‘fake initiative,’ not people’s initiative … That’s why I call on my friends from the House to stop this,” Villanueva said in a media briefing.


Asked if Romualdez should publicly ask those behind the people’s initiative to stop their signature drive, he said: “That is … perhaps obviously needed in order for us to feel that we are talking with [our counterparts].”

As to whether the House could still be trusted to support the joint resolution, he replied: “It’s obviously the main reason [why] a lot of senators are not interested in pushing for the joint resolution [anymore].”In a statement, Romualdez defended the people’s initiative, calling it “a direct expression of the people’s will, providing a means for citizens to propose constitutional amendments.”

He added that the House does not endorse or sanction the direct participation of members in gathering signatures to ensure the integrity and independence of the process.

“I vehemently denounce any allegations of bribery or unethical practices in persuading citizens to sign the petition for the People’s Initiative. Such actions, if true, would violate the initiative’s spirit of honest and voluntary participation and erode our democratic foundations,” Romualdez said.

True representation

According to him, the House is committed to providing “a transparent and accountable framework to support the people’s initiative, ensuring that it remains a true representation of the people’s collective will.”

“We are here to support and respect the outcomes of this process, affirming the People’s Initiative as the purest form of democracy,” he said.

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On the other hand, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe expressed their “profound disappointment” over Villanueva’s statement that senators would no longer push for the approval of RBH 6.

TAGS: 19th Congress, charter change, constitutional amendments, House of Representatives, Senate

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