Fariñas: Suspension of lawmaking for Con-Ass ‘not fatal’

Mara Cepeda
Fariñas: Suspension of lawmaking for Con-Ass ‘not fatal’
'You are talking about divorce, you are talking about death penalty. E paano kung sa bagong Constitution bawal pala ‘yun? Sayang lang ang ginawa mong batas,' says House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas sees nothing wrong with suspending lawmaking at the 17th Congress temporarily to give way to drafting a new Constitution through a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass). 

Fariñas made the statement in response to concerns about how Congress, when convened into a Con-Ass, can carry out its primary duty, which is to pass new measures. (READ: The problem with Con-Ass? Distrust of Congress)

E ‘di itigil muna ‘yang legislative mill. Bakit? Siyempre, gumagawa ka ng Saligang Batas e (Then let’s first stop the legislative mill. Why? Because we’re making a new Constitution). This is the fundamental law of the land. Might as well stop legislation first,” Fariñas told reporters on Thursday, August 4.  

He said doing this would prove to be more practical in the long run as Congress might pass bills that would contradict the provisions of the new Constitution.

“You are talking about divorce, you are talking about death penalty. E paano kung sa bagong Constitution bawal pala ‘yun? Sayang lang ang ginawa mong batas (But what if these laws under the new Constitution would become prohibited? They’ll be useless),” Fariñas said.

This is contrary to the earlier statement of Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro, who said that lawmakers can work day and night to make sure they would not neglect their legislative duties if Congress is convened into a Con-Ass.

For Fariñas, there is no need for Congress to change its daily working schedule should the plans for Con-Ass push through.

Kaya itigil muna iyan, ang dami naman nating batas. Hindi natin ikakamatay kung ititigil muna ang paggawa ng batas….Puwede naman every other week, legislative power then constituent power,” he said. 

(That’s why we should stop that first since we have a lot of laws already. It won’t be fatal on our part if we temporarily stop lawmaking. We can work on that every other week, legislative power then constituent power.)

Con-Ass, wherein sitting lawmakers convene themselves into a body that would amend the 1987 Constitution, is Duterte’s preferred mode to shift to a federal state. (READ: Will federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons of making the shift)

The President and his Congress allies believe federalism will remove the concentration of power and wealth from Metro Manila and empower the rest of the provinces.  (READ: House to appoint more deputy speakers to prepare for federalism)

Lawmakers and analysts have since expressed doubts on a Con-Ass, saying congressmen will likely put their interests ahead of the people’s. (READ: Con-Con won’t guarantee election of ‘right people’ – Alvarez

For his part, Duterte assured the people that he would close down Congress should it ruin the Charter. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.