Await SC ruling on Con-Ass, opposition solons told

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — TWO ranking House leaders yesterday appealed for sobriety while awaiting the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on a petition questioning the Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) resolution adopted by the House of Representatives as opposition lawmakers called on the public to join street protests to manifest opposition to all moves that would amend the Constitution.

House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao and Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong and Camiguin Rep. Pedro Romualdo asked Charter change (Cha-cha) critics to stop maligning House members for passing House Resolution (HR) No. 1109 and end allegations the Palace worked for its approval.

“We call on Cha-cha critics to exercise sobriety and fairness. Let’s just await the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on HR 1109 and respect whatever the High Tribunal’s decision will be,” said Datumanong, a former justice secretary.

But Nueva Ecija Rep. Edno Joson and Citizens Battle Against Corruption Rep. Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales said the people must show vigilance in a seeming attempt to prolong the stay in power of the Arroyo administration beyond June 2010.

“The public must help stop the gang rape of the Constitution. Everybody is welcomed to show his/her anger in a peaceful protest,” said Joson.

For her part, Cruz-Gonzales said the government must be sensitive enough and should heed the tide of public opinion which is against Cha-cha.

“Malacañang should not play deaf and mute and should not be blinded by selfish interest to perpetuate in power beyond their constitutional mandate,” said Cruz-Gonzales.

Contrary to critics’ claim, Datumanong said there was no railroading of HR 1109 because the measure was the subject of several hearings of the committee on constitutional amendments after which it was finally discussed and voted upon in plenary.

“The House engaged in transparent debates and discussions of HR 1109 which essentially guided its members in making their final decision on the measure,” said Datumanong.

Datumanong also said reports that cash and more pork barrel were offered by the Palace to solons to ensure passage of HR 1109 were completely false and unfair. “These are not true. The Palace has nothing to do with the Cha-cha push in the House. There is no such offer of cash to lawmakers. The Priority Development Assistance Fund is an appropriation in the regular budget.”

Romualdo, a vice chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, asked critics to stop using HR 1109 to discredit the administration and paint a no-elections scenario.

Romualdo said instead of campaigning against Con-Ass, critics should exercise patience and sobriety in waiting for the SC to render a decision on the petition questioning HR 1109.

“The SC is the final arbiter. On our part, we remain confident the SC will uphold the constitutionality of HR 1109,” he said.