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WATCH: Charter change debate ends with solons’ fight

/ 06:02 PM October 12, 2016

Two congressmen almost got into a fistfight as the debate over the mode of Charter change heated up at the House of Representatives.

The hearing of the House of Representatives constitutional amendments committee on Wednesday was adjourned following a near fistfight between Surigao Del Norte Rep. Robert “Ace” Barbers and Surigao Del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr.

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The conflict started when Pichay opposed a motion of Deputy Speaker Cebu Rep. Gwen Garcia to recommend to the plenary the constituent assembly as a mode of Charter change.

The committee is tackling 29 bills for the amendment of the constitution through Constitutional convention (Con-con) and Constituent assembly (Con-ass).

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The House is tackling measures for charter change following the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for Congress to convene in an assembly to propose amendments to the charter, particularly changing the form of government from unitary to federal parliamentary.

READ: It’s Con-ass, not Con-con

Pichay said the Senate should be invited first about Garcia’s motion, because the 1987 Constitution clearly stated that it is Congress, not just the House of Representatives, which could amend the Charter.

“The Constitution says Congress, not the House of Representatives. The resolution should be amended to invite the upper chamber to join us as far as the direct amendment is concerned,” Pichay said.

“The Constitution says Congress upon a vote of three fourths of all its members. Saan nakalagay ang Con-ass?” Pichay said.

Barbers shot back incredulously at Pichay’s view, and urged the committee not to entertain “stupid” motions.

“This is a point of order. Let us not be entertaining senseless motions, those are stupid motions. Let’s not pretend to be constitutionalists here,” Barbers said.

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The hearing was suspended after solons argued over the issue.

While the hearing was suspended, Barbers walked all the way to the seat of Pichay at the other side of table, and started pointing his fingers at him.

“P***** i** mo?” Barbers was heard as saying, tapping Pichay on the shoulder.

“Anong problema mo (What’s your problem)? P***** i** mo rin,” Pichay shot back.

Pichay then stood up and almost grabbed Barbers if it not for Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, who broke up what could have been a nasty scuffle in the middle of a House committee hearing.

The two congressmen were also pointing fingers and glowering at each other before the security separated the two.

Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque then urged the committee to adjourn the committee hearing.

“I move that we adjourn the hearing because we have a situation here,” Roque said.

In a phone interview, Barbers apologized for his actions. But he directed his apology to Congress and the public, not to Pichay.

“Sorry sa taumbayan. Uncalled for you ginawa ko. Kasi syempre it was just a verbal altercation. Wala namang physical na nangyari. Kung may nasagasaan ako, humingi hingi ako ng patawad,” Barbers said.

(I’m sorry to the public. What I did was uncalled for. It was a verbal altercation. Nothing physical happened. If I stepped on someone’s toes, I apologize.)

Barbers said his apology is not meant for Pichay, adding that he was also provoked by Pichay’s language.

“My apology is not to him (Pichay). Mali ko doon ay nagsalita ako ng masama na dala rin ng pagsasalita niya (I was wrong in speaking ill because of what he said),” Barbers said.

Pichay said it is Congress which deserved an apology from Barbers for his unparliamentary behavior.

“I was making a manifestation regarding the motion of Congresswoman Garcia…I only made an observation that we’re not Congress, we are the House of Representatives. Perhaps we should amend the motion,” Pichay said.

“Suddenly I don’t know where his anger came from. He uttered an unparliamentary word. He should apologize not to me, but to the institution. This is an institution where everybody should always act as a statesman. Hindi ito palengke (This is not a marketplace),” he added.

Pichay said he planned to file an ethics complaint against Barbers.

“I don’t need his sorry. I will file actually sa ethics committee for conduct unbecoming. That is a behavior that should not be tolerated by the House leadership,” Pichay said. JE

Originally posted at 04:34 pm | October 12, 2016

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TAGS: Ace Barbers, Charter change, congressman, fistfight, House of Representative, Prospero Pichay, scuffle
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