By Xave Gregorio
Charter change (Cha-cha) in Senate is already on “life support,” but it may still hurdle through the Senate constitutional amendments committee by October, its chair Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said.
“It’s on life support,” Pangilinan said Thursday (August 9) at the weekly Kapihan sa Senado. “At ‘yung kampanya parang brain dead.”
The opposition senator gave a more positive diagnosis of Cha-cha in the Senate compared to administration Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who said that the move to revise the Constitution to shift to federalism is “awaiting cremation” in the chamber.
Lacson later added after a video featuring Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson showed a lewd song-and-dance number on federalism went viral that the Cha-cha bid’s “ashes should be thrown far, far away” from the country.
Cha-cha has hit a wall due to a stalemate between the Senate and the House over whether they would vote jointly or separately in a constituent assembly (ConAss) which would propose and vote on amendments or revisions to the Constitution.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her allies in the House are attempting to break this impasse, with them filing a resolution expressing that the two chambers of Congress would be voting separately should it be convened into a ConAss.
But senators remain cautious even with this development, as some of them fear that this may be questioned before the Supreme Court and that the 23-member Senate may be forced to vote with the 291-member House if the court rules in favor of joint voting.
“Walang makakapagpigil sa sinumang kongresista, kapag kami ay nagdebate na, na pumunta sa Korte Suprema na base sa saligang batas dapat voting jointly at kapag ganun ang nangyari, magkakalintik-lintik na ika nga,” Pangilinan said.
However, he said that the Senate constitutional amendments committee may finally come out with a report on its recommendations on Cha-cha by October.
He added that the committee may recommend against Cha-cha, especially with economic managers issuing strong statements against federalism.
At a budget briefing in the Senate Wednesday (August 8), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said he would not vote for the ratification of the proposed new constitution drafted by President Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative committee if it is submitted to a plebiscite now.
Dominguez has also said that federalism would be a “fiscal nightmare,” while Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said it would “wreak havoc” on the economy.
“‘Di na kami sa oposisyon ‘yan, sila na ang gumagamit ng terminong ‘bangungot,’ ‘impyerno,’ ‘kalituhan.’ Kapag ganyan, bakit natin mamadaliin?” Pangilinan said.