BY JANESS ANN J. ELLAO AND RONALYN V. OLEA
Majority of the authors of Charter change resolutions and bills did not attend the session of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments at around 2 p.m. today.
There are twelve pending resolutions and bills seeking to revise and amend the 1987 Constitution.
Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chair and La Union First District Representative Victor Ortega, Committee Vice Chair Rep. Edelmiro Amante of the 2nd district of Agusan del Norte and Fourth District Camarines Sur Felix Alfelor were the only authors of resolutions and bills on Charter Change present at the hearing.
The controversial resolution drafted by Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte has not been included in the agenda of today’s hearing. The ‘Villafuerte resolution’ seeks to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly through joint voting.
Ortega said the ‘Villafuerte resolution’ has not yet been referred to his committee.
Constituent Assembly is one of two modes allowed to amend the Constitution. It may be convened with the three-fourths vote of Congress or a total of 196 votes. Once this requirement is met, the present members of Congress—the senators and the congressmen—will be the ones who will propose the amendments to the Constitution, which will later be voted on by the people through a plebiscite.
Meanwhile, House Resolution 737 authored by House Speaker Prospero Nograles has been passed by the committee last February. The resolution seeks to amend the Constitution to scrap the 40 percent limit on foreign ownership. Ortega said he has not been notified by the Committee on Rules when the said resolution will be taken up in the plenary.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said the most of the authors of Charter change resolutions and bills did not attend the session because they are simply not interested. ‘Bakit naman sila mag-aaksaya ng panahon eh hindi naman sila makikinabang?’ (Why would they waste their time if they will not benefit from it.)
Casiño said lawmakers prefer Constituent Assembly to Constitutional Convention since the former would allow them to extend their term in office. He added that if they will convene Constituent assembly by June or July of this year, lawmakers would possibly claim that they are not yet done with amending the charter as the deadline of the draft draws near. Casiño predicts that they might call for the postponement of the May 2010 Elections until their task is done.
Casiño also told Bulatlat that he believes that majority of the House of Representatives would vote for constituent assembly as a way of amending the constitution. He said that the opposition can only delay the process but at the end of the day, they will still vote for it. He also added that if ever there are ‘delays’, it is because the people pushing for charter change understands that public opinion dictates not to push for charter change.
Meanwhile, House Minority Deputy Leader Satur Ocampo also deemed that the Arroyo ruling clique benefits from the resignation of Nograles and Villafuerte as presidents of Lakas and Kampi.
Nograles and Villafuerte claimed their resignation signals that the 2010 elections will proceed.
Ocampo said the Arroyos in Congress have so much to gain from Nograles’ move. “This could mean the consolidation of the two parties to push further for Charter change,” Ocampo said. (Bulatlat.com)