By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola
Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) may face raps should it go with the House of Representatives in pushing through with the proposed Charter change (Cha-cha) plebiscite without the Senate in the picture.
In a radio interview yesterday, Drilon said officials of the Comelec would be charged with malversation of public funds if they held what he called an “illegal plebiscite” stemming from the House’s solo move to push for Cha-cha.
“Kung ang Comelec ay gagawin ang plebisito, sila ay masasampahan ng kaso for malversation dahilan sa gagastos sila ng pondo ng bansa na walang pahintulot ng batas (If the Comelec will hold a plebiscite, they would be charged for malversation because they will use the country’s funds without lawful consent),” he said.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has stated repeatedly that congressmen will pursue the amendment of the 1987 Constitution with or without the Senate, insisting that the number from the Lower Chamber will suffice the three-fourths votes required in the present Charter.
Earlier, Drilon warned that the Cha-cha will be derailed if the Lower Chamber will insist on a joint voting by Congress for a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to pursue amendments to the Charter.
A number of senators are in favor of a Constitutional Convention in which those amending the Constitution are elected directly by the public, but will take more time and cost more money than a Con-Ass. Many senators want the vote to be done separately in both houses of Congress.
IBP backs Con-con
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has expressed support to have a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) in pushing for Cha-cha as the ruling party remains dead set to form a federal government.
“Ours is a rigid Constitution, made so as a protection against firebrand changes – and major revisions designed to substantially alter the balance of power in government must be proposed by a more circumspect Constitutional Convention and not by an overweening Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass),” said IBP President Abdiel Dan Elijah Fajardo.
The group of national lawyers explained it issued the statement after being formally asked by the Senate about the matter.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said that it understands the Senate’s stand that it will not allow the institution to be pressured by the Lower House.
The statement was made as both Chambers are yet to iron out their differences on pushing for the shift to a federal type of government.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said it understands the sentiment of the 23 senators, noting that the matter would have to be studied carefully for it will affect the entire nation. (With reports from Jeffrey G. Damicog and Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)