By Rose Anne Dela Cruz
THE Draft federal charter of the President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Consultative Committee will be fast tracked in the House of Representatives.
This is after House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered Constitutional Amendments Committee chairman Representative Vicente Veloso to leave the deliberations on the substance of the draft federal constitution to the proposed Constituent Assembly that will be composed of Senate and House members.
Arroyo said the debates on the substance will be the duty of the joint session and not by the committee. This move, she added, will also spare them time in carrying out one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s important legislative agenda.
In this case, Veloso reiterated at the start of the committee briefing that they are meeting to just hear out resource persons particularly on the point how they can convince the Senate to join the House in convening as a Con-Ass.
Prior the hearing, Arroyo was seen and heard talking with Concom Member and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. saying he was the father of federalism and that they have to focus in convincing the Senate to convene into a Con-Ass.
Early Tuesday, Arroyo filed a resolution seeking to convene both chambers of Congress into a Constituent Assembly and will have a separate voting on Charter Change. She said this is also to address the longtime stalemate on the manner of voting.
“Together, yes. Like for instance in the Bangsamoro Basic Law, there were three committees. That’s heard altogether but the three committees voted separately”, says Arroyo when asked how will the Congress do the joint discussion.
The senators strongly oppose joint voting, a scenario previously floated by Former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as they argued that their power would be diminished in joint voting, noting that there are only 24 of them compared to the 292 representatives in the House.
Amid Arroyo’s firm decision, her counterpart, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that as soon as the resolution was transmitted to them, he will refer to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Codes.
Meantime, Minority Floor leader Senate Franklin Drilon said the House should give up on convening Congress into a ConAss to do Cha-Cha. He noted that there is simply no time in the 17th Congress, adding that the possibility of making the senate irrelevant thru joint voting and a no-el scenario, generate mistrust on the process.
However, ConCom spokesperson Ding Generoso said the committee appeals to the Senator to give chance to the proposal to shift to federal form of government.
“We’re just appealing to the sense of patriotism and love for the country of our senators. This is the only chance that we’ve had since 120 years ago when we established the first Republic in Asia. Our country has gone through so many administrations, but if we look back in our history, the problems that Rizal and Bonifacio faced during their time are still the same problems that we have. Hopefully with this change, we can address most of these problems that have been left hanging for over a century,” Generoso noted.