Barbers: House has no plan B on Cha-cha but PI | Inquirer News

Barbers: No Plan B for House on Cha-cha but people’s initiative can be it

/ 01:23 PM February 08, 2024

PHOTO: Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers STORY: Barbers: No Plan B for House on Cha-cha but people’s initiative can be it

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (File photo from a video posted on the Facebook page of the House of Representatives)

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has no backup plans if the constitutional amendment proposal under Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 stalls, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said in a statement on Thursday.

However, he also noted that the people’s initiative (PI) to amend the Constitution was not dead yet – as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) only suspended proceedings indefinitely and not permanently.


“Maybe the backup plan is to consider the PI,” he said.


Barbers and other House leaders have been asked about a backup plan since the Senate appears to lean toward an October deadline for RBH No. 6 discussions instead of March.

“So far, we have not talked about a backup plan. We are just giving the Senate the time to consider approving and adopting RBH 6. It would really be appreciated if they would adopt this within the time that they have promised,” he said, partly in Filipino.

“Of course, if this will not happen, I think the PI is still ongoing. It’s just suspended for the meantime in the Comelec. Maybe the backup plan is to consider the PI,” he added.

Barbers nevertheless maintained that the House has nothing to do with the PI for Charter change, as it was a proposal brought forward by proponents who believe that amending the Constitution’s economic provisions is urgent.

“The PI is not in our hands. It’s in the hands of PIRMA [People’s Initiative for Reform Modernization and Action]… We have no role in that,” he said.

The PI drive has been hounded by controversies, including accusations of bribery or the giving of money or promising cash aid in exchange for signatures.


“All we’re saying is that many quarters are saying that we need to look at the Constitution — the League of Governors, the League of Municipal Mayors, the chambers of commerce and industry in the different provinces, the business community, the Makati Business Club,” Barber said.

“Almost practically all sectors that are pushing for [it] feel this is a necessity –  the amendment of the Constitution. We should listen to this because it’s not a congressman’s clamor. This is the clamor of many sectors. As to how we are going to do it, that is what we must resolve.”

The Senate and the House have been squabbling over attempts to amend the Constitution. When the PI proposal gained traction in early January, several senators accused the House leadership, particularly Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, of being behind the move.

Senators also feared that the PI would abolish the Senate and turn Congress into a unicameral institution. Last January 23, all 24 senators signed a manifesto condemning the PI for suggesting that Congress vote jointly on the proposed amendments.

If applied, senators said their votes would quickly be overwhelmed by over 300 House lawmakers.

READ: House leaders say there’s no plan to abolish Senate, now pushing RBH 6

But Romualdez and ranking lawmakers denied the senators’ accusations. The speaker maintained that he was not behind the PI and that the House was only after amending restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.

They also noted that the House version of RBH No. 6 – adopted last March 2023 – only calls for amendments to economic provisions.

READ: Cha-cha focused on economic reforms, not term extension, says solon

Several House leaders hoped tensions between the Senate and House over the issue would simmer as a Senate subcommittee started discussions on RBH No. 6.

However, it appears to have sparked again after the House adopted a resolution defending Romualdez from the Senate’s alleged “intense assaults.” Lawmakers also questioned why the Senate would want to finish the discussions by October 2024, when Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri mentioned a March deadline.

READ: Zubiri on passage of RBH 6: Senate will not succumb to deadline pressure

Barbers said he would be willing to mediate between the two chambers in the word war.

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“Yes, yes. I am willing. This really needs to be discussed because the senators and congressmen are not unaware that this is a method to resolve this impasse,” he said.

TAGS: charter change, People's Initiative, Robert Ace Barbers

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