PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — ADMINISTRATION lawmakers are of varied opinion on a renewed proposal to amend the Constitution which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wants to be done through a constituent assembly that could lead to a federal form of government in the hope of resolving the conflict in Mindanao.
A constituent assembly, according to Malacañang, is what even Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. is advocating, filing a resolution that has been signed by at least 12 senators.
Rep. Abraham Mitra (NPC, Palawan) suggested that big parties like Lakas-CMD, Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), Nationalist People’s Coalition and the Nacionalista Party — which are all members of the ruling coalition — should meet in a party summit that will discuss the proposed Charte change.
“The summit could come up with an accord that will define the parameters of Charter change so the exercise will be focused on the provisions that really need to be revised,” according to Mitra, chairman of the House committee on agriculture.
Rep. Paul Daza (Kampi, Northern Samar) argued that the proposal is again being misinterpreted by the opposition, which is “insisting that Charter change is meant to sneak in changes” to prolong the term of President Arroyo and other elective officials.
Daza noted that the President’s bitterest critics in the Senate, headed by Pimentel, are among those pushing for federalism through constitutional amendments in a constituent assembly.
“Charter change will not last forever. It should be responsive to the changing times,” he said.
Rep. Elpidio Barzaga (Kampi, Cavite) agreed with Mitra there should be parameters in amending the 1987 Constitution to avoid suspensions that the proposed amendments will for the term extension of present officials.
“My fear is that without the parties providing discipline and guidance, the constitutional assembly might degenerate into a free-for-all, come-what-may submission of proposed changes that will result in the overhaul of the fundamental law, instead of the surgical removal or insertion of provisions that the limited agenda of federalism and economic changes will require,” Barzaga said.
Rep. Roilo Golez (Ind., Parañaque), spokesman of the House minority, said it has become a “Filipino blood sport” that always arises suspicions since he joined the legislature during the 9th Congress.