Senators confront Cha-cha backers for trying to 'castrate' Senate

Senators confront Cha-cha backers for trying to ‘castrate’ Senate

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 04:47 PM February 13, 2024

PHOTO: Senate plenary hall with cover of Philippine Constitution superimposed STORY: Senators confront Cha-cha backers for trying to ‘castrate’ Senate

Senators confront the group behind the Charter Change (Cha-cha) signature drive for supposedly “deceiving” the public and trying to “castrate” the Senate. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Tuesday confronted the group behind the Charter Change (Cha-cha) signature drive for supposedly “deceiving” the public and trying to “castrate” the Senate.

Sen. Nancy Binay asked lawyer Anthony Abad during Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate committee on electoral reforms about the “end goal” of the people’s initiative (PI) for Cha-cha.


Abad’s name appeared in the signature forms distributed by the People’s Initiative for Reform Modernization and Action (Pirma).


While he said he doesn’t have “a specific or structure in mind,” Abad mentioned that economic provisions “have to be dealt with.”

Why then did proponents not say it directly in the signature forms? Asked Binay and Sen. Imee Marcos, head of the Senate committee on electoral reforms.

READ: Alleged backer of people’s initiative for Cha-cha shows up at Senate

Abad later pointed to Pirma convenor Noel Oñate and other petitioners to explain the reasons behind the signature drive.

“My understanding is the reason why it’s only voting jointly is because, in a people’s initiative, we can only propose one item,” Oñate said.

The group’s lawyer, Alex Avisado, backed this explanation, adding they were told that they were only allowed to propose amendments on one subject.


Avisado also cited a sentiment that the “door to Charter change has always been closed from the House  of Representatives to the Senate.”

“Are you sure?” Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa repeatedly asked the resource persons.

READ: Cha-cha: No for framers, yes for foreign chambers

“From the very beginning, there was really an intention to castrate the Senate. That’s what you really want because you instantly suggested joint voting,” Dela Rosa said.

All 24 senators rejected the PI because of the proposal that voting on any amendments to the 1987 Constitution should be done jointly by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Avisado went on to explain that the consensus within the group was to propose amendments through the PI since the voting requirement was the only subject of the petition.

“It may be very unpopular and very antagonistic on the Senate, but I’m really sorry, that is the campaign of the group on people’s initiative,” he said.

READ: Cha-cha out of the woodwork again despite past failure, lack of people’s trust

Binay agreed with dela Rosa that there was indeed an attempt to curtail the power of the Senate by changing another provision in the Constitution.

According to her, people’s initiative proponents propose that joint voting may be called by the speaker of the House of Representatives “or” the Senate president when it should be the speaker “and” the Senate president.

“You made it the speaker or the Senate president. So there was really that intent to diminish the power of the Senate which runs against the spirit of the Constitution that the set up of the House and the Senate must be bicameral,” Binay said.

Oñate denied, however, having any hand in the drafting of the signature forms.

“But you agreed to it. You agreed to this provision, correct?” Binay asked, to which the Pirma convenor answered yes.

Dela Rosa insisted it was very clear that Oñate only joined the people’s initiative to spay the Senate.

He also accused the group of deceiving the public after releasing an advertisement with the proposed amendments to the  Constitution, but the proposal in the people’s initiative calls for the easing out of the Senate.

“How deceptive can you be with this kind of approach?” dela Rosa asked.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“We apologize. We understand your frustration, Senator Dela Rosa, but that was not our intention,” Avisado said.

TAGS: 1987 Constitution, charter change, House of Representatives, People's Initiative, PIRMA, Senate

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.