Dalipe to senators: Are you in favor of Charter change or not?
MANILA, Philippines — Majority Floor Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe challenged all 24 senators to publicly state their stand regarding amendments to the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions.
Dalipe issued the dare during a press briefing on Tuesday, visibly frustrated over Charter change or constitutional amendment proposals supposedly languishing or dying in the Senate as he feared Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 would suffer the same fate.
According to him, each senator must now make public their true position on Charter change and let people decide in 2025 whom they want to elect to the Senate.
“This is my challenge now to all senators, why don’t you 24 come out in the open, who is in favor of amending the Constitution, to update the 37-year-old Constitution, who are against it?” Dalipe asked.
“So that by 2025 – this is my challenge to the senators, come out in the open, do not hide, tell the entire Philippines who among the senators are in favor of amending, updating the 37-year-old Constitution, and who is against it. And the people of the Philippines will decide whom to put in the Senate,” he added.
Dalipe said that for 37 years, Charter change or constitutional amendments failed to prosper because the Senate allegedly buried proposals – regardless of whether the mode of amending the 1987 Constitution would be through a constituent assembly, a constitutional convention, or a people’s initiative.
“You know, for 37 years proposals failed to prosper because let’s face it, this is what happens, everybody sees that all proposals to update the 1987 Constitution die in the Senate. That’s what happens, we are just honest here although whatever they speak about the House, that’s what we feel,” the lawmaker said.
“Whether we transmit to the Senate constituent assembly, whether we transmit to the Senate constitutional convention, it dies at the Senate, that’s the feeling. All proposals die there in the Senate, it gets buried there, and here comes another administration again with another proposal, what will happen?” he added.
Dalipe’s statements came after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said that the upper chamber will not be pressured by deadlines for the passage of RBH No. 6, while Senator Sonny Angara, who heads the subcommittee tackling the resolution, is looking toward an October deadline.
According to Dalipe, the House does not have the same luxury of time that the Senate has as they have to work double-time to pass much-needed bills during a three-year term, whereas each senator gets a six-year term.
“Sometimes I think to myself, why are we so in a rush with our work, maybe in comparison to our friends there they have the luxury of time because they have 12 years [for two terms]. They have six years [for each term]. We have three years only. We have to do the output because the people of the Republic of the Philippines will judge us every three years. So we need output, we have to help our people,” he said.
“And in this case, the economic provisions that will help our country. But we don’t have the luxury of time, we have to act fast, to hold meetings diligently, we have to work double-time to come up with that legislation because every House member gets three years for every term. But they have 12 years, it’s so long that maybe they can sleep more, right?” he likewise asked.
Several House leaders believed that tensions between the Senate and House over Charter change and constitutional amendments would simmer down as Zubiri vowed to start discussions on RBH No. 6. However, it appears that tensions sparked again after the House on Monday adopted a resolution defending Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez from the Senate’s alleged “intense assaults.”
Heated exchanges between senators and House legislators stemmed from the people’s initiative that gathered signatures for Charter change. The signature campaign has been marred with controversies such as bribery or giving of money or promising cash aid to individuals to get their signatures.
Some senators claimed this people’s initiative, which also includes a proposal for joint voting of Congress on amendments to the 1987 Constitution, was being orchestrated by Romualdez and the House leadership.
A joint voting means that the Senate and House would vote as one body. This scheme, however, may effectively outvote the 24-member Senate since the House has at least 300 members.
Romualdez has consistently denied being the brain behind the people’s initiative for Charter change, asserting that he was only a facilitator and not an initiator of the effort.