Fariñas to take over as charter change panel head

Patty Pasion
Fariñas to take over as charter change panel head
Ilocos Norte's congressman explains that the committee's incumbent chair, Roger Mercado, is giving up the committee to keep his post as Deputy Majority Leader

MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said he would be heading the committee on constitutional amendments, which leads the discussion on the proposed shift to a federal form of government. 

The Ilocos Norte 1st district representative said on Thursday, October 13, he would take charge once Southern Leyte Representative Roger Mercado relinquishes his post as the incumbent chairperson.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and I talked, and we decided that I would eventually take over as chairman of the constitutional amendments. Because this is a big thing so that when it is taken up at the floor, I’ll be the one to defend it,” he said in Filipino.

According to Fariñas, Mercado told him that he would give up his leadership of the standing committee as he wishes to retain his position as deputy majority leader. 

“As deputy majority leader, you get to be ex-officio member of all standing and special committees of the House. So if he goes as chairman of the committee on amendments, he will have to lose all his positions,” Fariñas explained.

Mercado presided the first committee meeting on Wednesday, where he moved to nominally vote on the mode by which the Constitution will be amended.

Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia moved that Congress organize itself into a constituent assembly, the method preferred by President Rodrigo Duterte. Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now representing Pampanga’s second district, also favors a constituent assembly.

Kabayan Representative Harry Roque, a lawyer, argued that voting for the mode poses a “prejudicial question.”

“We cannot simply vote without being clear if the Constitution contemplates if the Congress can vote jointly or separately,” he said. 

The hearing adjourned without arriving at a resolution. – Rappler.com

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.