Palace: Duterte won’t intervene with Congress on charter change

Published January 21, 2018, 11:29 AM

by Francine Ciasico

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang maintained that President Duterte would not intervene with the Congress as the Chief Executive respects the independence of the legislative body.

Both chambers in the legislative branch are yet to iron out their differences on pushing for the shift to a federal type of government. The Senate wants to vote on charter change separately while the House of Representatives is pushing for a joint vote.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President believes it is the Congress job to make revisions in the Constitution and he would not intervene in the process.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Ang paninindigan po ng Presidente hindi po siya nanghihimasok sa gawain ng Kongreso. Naniniwala po kami na independiyente ang Konrgeso at hindi po kami nanghihimasok, hindi po nanghihimasok ang ating Presidente. (The President is firm that he would not intervene with Congress. We believe that Congress is independent and the President would not meddle with their affairs),” Roque told reporters in Kalibo, Aklan.

“Ito pong pagbibigay ng suhestiyon kung ano iyong dapat marebisa sa ating Saligang Batas ay katungkulan pa rin ng ating Kongreso na umuupo bilang isang (Revising the Constitution is the duty of Congress which serves as) constituent assembly,” he added.

The Palace official added that just like passing a law, both houses in Congress need to settle their differences in order to push through with the charter change.

“Alam naman ng mga Kongresista na (Our lawmakers know that) in addition to being a deliberative body, consensual po iyang Kongreso. Ganiyan din po iyong relasyon ng Kamara at ng Senado. Kinakailangan magkasundo sila para sila ay makausad ng paggawa ng batas (The Congress is a consensual body. That is the same with the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives. They need to unite so they can pass a law)!” Roque said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said the Palace understands the sentiment of the 23 senators, noting that the matter would have to be studied carefully for it will affect the entire nation.

“Tama naman na kailangan din ay ‘pag-aralan ng husto ng ating mga Senador ang Charter change, ang pagpasok po ng ating Saligang Batas at porma ng gobyerno sapagka’t iyon naman talaga iyong trabaho nila (It’s true that the Senate has to study this thoroughly), so that we leave no stone unturned,” Andanar said over DZRH.

“Now pagdating naman doon sa porma ng kung anong klaseng federalism, ito po ang babalangkasin ng Senado (The Senate would have to discuss which kind of federalism we will shift to),” he added.

“We respect our Senators if they say that they will have to study it properly and I think tama naman iyon na dapat hindi talaga madaliin ng sobra (they are right because this matter should not be done in haste),” he continued.

Meanwhile, Andanar, in another radio interview, said he believes the Senate and the House of Representatives would eventually be able to settle their differences.

“The legislature is an independent branch of government. I believe that at the end of the day, mag-uusap usap din ang mga Congressman at mga Senador (they will talk) to come up with one solution,” he said over DZMM.

President Duterte has been pushing for a federal form of government since even before the election period, citing the need to decentralize the government to give people in the provinces the chance to improve their lives.

Under the proposed federal government, the country will be divided into five federal states–the federal states of Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, Metro Manila, and Bangsamoro.