charter change

House wants Senate to focus on amending economic provisions of constitution

Kaycee Valmonte

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House wants Senate to focus on amending economic provisions of constitution

Senate hearing on the propose amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, on February 5, 2024.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman says senators can drop investigating the people's initiative. She says: 'Meron pa bang people’s initiative na nagaganap? Wala na ‘di ba?'

MANILA, Philippines — Senators have been busy lately – with simultaneous hearings tackling the proposed changes in economic provisions of the Constitution, and an investigation into the public petition for charter amendments.

But their colleagues in the House of Representatives are hoping that the senators would just focus on amending the economic provisions of the Constitution. The House is keen on finishing discussions on charter amendments by the end of March – a deadline the senators themselves set.

House wants Senate to focus on amending economic provisions of constitution

However, senators changed their tune on this deadline and said that they might finish going through the Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 (RBH6) by October at the latest.

RBH6, filed by  Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and co-authored with Senators Sonny Angara and Loren Legarda, proposes “amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.” The resolution only covers amendments in the operation of public utilities and education services.

Karapatan ng mga senador na mag-conduct ng isang inquiry kung gusto nila, pero ito lang naman ang aming humble opinion – meron pa bang PI (people’s initiative) ? Meron pa bang people’s initiative na nagaganap? Wala na ‘di ba?” Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman said in a press conference on Wednesday, February 14.

Zubiri dances to Cha-Cha: Senate to lead Constitution review on economic provisions

Zubiri dances to Cha-Cha: Senate to lead Constitution review on economic provisions

(The senators have the right to conduct an inquiry if they want to, but in our humble opinion – is there still a people’s initiative? Is it still ongoing? It’s no longer in progress.)

Malinaw ang COMELEC (Commission on Elections). Hindi nila tatanggapin ang mga signatures, nagsabi na rin ang pangulo na hindi ito itutuloy… so what’s the point of all this?”

(The COMELEC has been clear in its decision. It will no longer accept signature forms for a people’s initiative. The president also said it has been discontinued. So, what’s the point of all this?)

Roman previously said senators could have had more empathy in the investigation of the people’s initiative, claiming that colleagues at the senate dragged House Speaker Martin Romualdez’s name and the integrity of the lower chamber through the mud. (READ: After ‘intense assault’ from Senate, House stands up for Romualdez)

Lawmakers from both houses of Congress recently engaged in a pitched battle over their differing stances on charter amendments, with senators accusing the lower chamber of trying to diminish their role in the process of amending the Constitution.

The public petition or the PI sought to have both houses of Congress vote jointly in a constitutional assembly. In that scenario, House votes would outnumber those of Senate’s 24 members.

Despite the status of the petition being mired in limbo, however, senators have continued their probe and had their third round of investigation on the PI on Tuesday.

Wala naman tayong napapala dun sa imbestigation (We are not gaining anything from the investigation), Ako Bicol Representative Raul Angelo “Jill” Bongalon said Wednesday.

‘Yung kabago-bagong programa ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) binibigyan nila ng panget na kulay, so why don’t we start the debate on [the] economic reform? (They are even putting the new DSWD program in a bad light).”

Congressmen said they were open to setting aside differences with senators so they could finally work on the proposed economic provisions. However, Roman said that if senators finish their RBH6 discussions by October, the latest campaign for charter amendments will be “as good as dead” because the attention of lawmakers will shift to the midterm elections.

House lawmakers said their constituents would hold them accountable for the benefits they promised would come with the amending of the Constitution.

Roman had a “friendly reminder” to their senate colleagues. Since the 2025 elections are just around the corner, Roman said the senators must remember that House members hold influence over congressional districts as they directly engage with their constituents.

Tatanungin nanaman kaming mga congressman, ‘Sino ba ma’am palagay niyong iboboto naming senador?‘ They never ask the senators sino bang congressman ang iboboto. Kumbaga, kung merong influencers sa iba’t ibang distrito dito sa buong bansa, tayo ‘yun,” she said.

(We will be asked again by our constituents on whom they should vote for senator. They never ask the senators which congressman they should vote for. If you think about it. If there are influencers in the different districts in the country, that would be us.) –

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