charter change

Solving virus crisis through charter change? ‘Out of this world,’ says Pangilinan

Aika Rey
Solving virus crisis through charter change? ‘Out of this world,’ says Pangilinan

Senate hearing for Dengvaxia case. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Imbento siguro,' says Senate President Tito Sotto of the supposed online effort to unseat Senator Francis Pangilinan as chairman of the Senate constitutional amendments panel

Senator Francis Pangilinan has thumbed down some netizens’ calls to give up the chairmanship of the Senate constitutional amendments panel, saying the reason they cited – to pave the way for charter change (Cha-Cha) and ultimately solve the coronavirus crisis in the country – is just “out of this world.”

Pangilinan issued the statement as the hashtag #OustKiko trended early Wednesday, July 15, even topping the Philippine trends on Twitter for some time. The senator, as well as other senators, credited the effort to “paid online trolls.”

“I am ready to give up the post anytime if asked by the Senate leadership but certainly not because of the ‘clamor’ of paid online trolls,” the senator said.

“Besides, the argument that the problem of COVID will be solved by charter change is quite frankly out of this world,” he added.

In a now-deleted tweet, Pangilinan’s daughter Frankie said late Tuesday, July 14, that a certain online movement wanted to “oust” the senator from the Senate panel chairmanship to push for constitutional changes – supposedly to solve the coronavirus problem in the country.

Pangilinan has led the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes starting 2018, during the 17th Congress. He retained the position in the 18th Congress.

Asked whether the Senate leadership has thought of replacing Pangilinan as the Senate panel’s chair, Senate President Vicente Sotto III told Rappler: “Ako SP, wala akong naririnig. Mabuti pa sila maraming alam (I’m the Senate President, I haven’t heard anything. They know more than I do).”

Sotto added, “Imbento siguro (Probably made up).”

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon believed that people in favor of constitutional amendments are behind the move, to revive Cha-Cha discussions.

“A feeble effort by the one managing the troll farm to amend the Constitution,” said Drilon.

Pangilinan’s supporters sought to fend off the attacks against the senator by using the same hashtag and using Korean popstars’ photos and videos – in a bid to flood the Twitter timeline and confuse users on what the hashtag is about. Some of them also used the hashtag #ProtectKiko.

Earlier this year, the House committee on constitutional amendments recalled a resolution which sought to amend parts of the 1987 Constitution, as the executive branch submitted a new list of proposed amendments to lawmakers. (READ: What you need to know about Charter Change)

A shift to federalism – where the country would be divided into autonomous regions – is one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promises. In his 4th State of the Nation Address in July 2019, the President made no mention of charter change but the Duterte government said it would continue pushing for a shift to federalism.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the federalism campaign went online, targetting 2 million signatures by July 2020. The Presidential Communications Operations Office and the Department of the Interior and Local Government denied having a hand in this, even if the website is being hosted by the Philippine government. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.