Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pangasinenses nix Cha-Cha in first congressional consultation

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

DAGUPAN CITY –  Out of more than a hundred crowd invited by Congress for the consultation of revision of the 1987 Constitution, only five wanted charter change through a Constituent Assembly (CA).
CHA-CHA. Dagupan City Mayor Belen T. Fernandez gives the opening remarks on the first “Congressional Public Consultation on Constitutional Reforms” held at the grand ball room of Le Duc Hotel in Dagupan City last Friday. Resource speakers from the Committee on Constitutional Amendments are Representatives Roger Mercado, Vicente Veloso, Virgilio Lacson, and Edward Maceda who were joined at the panel table by Pangasinan Congressmen Christopher de Venecia and Rosemarie Arenas. MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA.

When Committee on Constitutional Amendment Chair Roger Mercado asked the attendees who came from the 31 villages of this city,  only five raised their right hand on the CA while more than 10 raised their hand on the Constitutional Convention.
The attendees were led by barangay chairmen, mayors councilors, and public and private officials from here and the towns and other cities of Pangasinan.
Some spectators said the attendees did not understand the bodies that have been given power to hammer the highest law, or they did not want federalism as the “silver bullet” to end the malaise of this country, if based on the pronouncement of Representative Mercado and others.
A Constituent Assembly, according to Wikipidia, is composed of all members of the bicameral Philippine Congress (Senate and the House of Representatives). It is convened by Congress to propose amendments to the 1987 constitution. Under Article XVII of the Constitution of the Philippines, amendments pass upon a vote of three fourths of all members of Congress, but it is not clear if the Congress should vote as a single body or as separate houses.
Congressman Mercado said here that CA would be convened where Senate and House of Representatives vote as one for the three-fourth. His pronouncement made some experts here skeptical if the charter change bid would pass the scrutiny of the Supreme Court whose members were pet peeves of President Rodrigo Duterte – the main proponent of the constitutional change.
A constitutional convention, Wikipedia said, is a gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising an existing constitution. Members of a constitutional convention are often elected by popular vote. The resulting constitutional frame of government is often subjected to a popular vote via referendum before it enters into force. 
College of Law Dean and lawyer Manuel Manuel of Lyceum Northwestern University told Northern Watch that his students had a position paper opposing the amendment or revision of the Constitution.
Veloso said the CA is the practical vehicle than CC because CA could save ten billion pesos of the public funds in the deliberation, debate, and amendment or revision by its members of the fundamental law.
“Iyong pipiliin niyo na mga commissioners sa CC tinalo na ng mga congressmen ninyo sila sa last elections,” the former Court of Appeals Justice explained.
A former professor of political science probably influenced the voting mood of the attendees when he passionately argued that Congress should focus on amending the xenophobic 60-40 percentage business equity that favor Filipino businessmen at the expense of foreign investors instead of zeroing on federalism that has nothing to do with the penury of the Filipinos.
“Our problems are (lack of)jobs for our people and the solution is break that 60-40 percent economic provision in the Constitution and make it 100 percent to attract more foreign businessmen to put jobs in the country,” he told the Committee on Constitutional Amendments headed by Mercado.
The Committee is composed of Veloso, Representatives Vicente Veloso, Virgilio Lacson, and Edward Maceda who were joined at the panel table by Pangasinan Congressmen Christopher de Venecia and Rosemarie “Baby” Arenas. It has 35 members.

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