House leaders tell ex-president Duterte: ‘Tama na ang kalokohan, isto-istorya’

LEADERS of the House of Representatives on Wednesday said the claim of former president Rodrigo Roa Duterte that the people’s initiative (PI) aims to shift the country to the parliamentary system has no constitutional basis.

They also appealed to the former leader to stop this foolishness and making up stories.

House Majority Leader and Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe challenged Duterte to present proof that the House push for constitutional reform includes political amendments.

“Tama na po yung istorya-istorya at kung ano-anong kalokohan. Kaya nga masaya kami ngayon upon learning that the Senate is now going to deliberate on it (Resolution of Both Houses) ang tagal na po nating hinihintay ‘yan. So tama na po ‘yung kung ano anong istorya, let’s stick to the facts of what we transmitted to the Senate,” Dalipe told reporters in a press conference.

Duterte has claimed that once the nation is shifted to the parliamentary form of government, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez would become prime minister and he would be succeeded by Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Alexander Marcos.

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments, said Duterte’s statement that the PI “will lead to some people to become prime minister and there would be a perpetuation of power has no constitutional and legal basis.”

“People’s initiative cannot change the form or system of government. We are unitary, we cannot change it to federal through people’s initiative…we cannot also change a bicameral form of government into a unicameral form, because the PI will only be for amendments,” he said.

“We therefore can see that there is no basis on that and also on the law on peoples initiative, clearly amendments lang. So it can never happen to this PI that there can be a change to parliamentary to have elections for prime minister. And so therefore that is very clear: it has no legal and constitutional basis to say that PI is for perpetuation of power, election of prime minister, and that is very clear,” he said.

Dalipe said the “suspicion that we are trying to do this to have somebody become a prime minister or something, records will prove tingnan po natin ano ‘yun tinransmit ng House of Representatives sa senado, di po yun sekreto, those are public records.”

“I’m challenging those who are accusing the House of Representatives of trying to put in this, you know, pushing for this constitutional amendments or changes in our constitution…ipakita n’yo po yung dokumento na nagsasabi na we are pushing for those type of political changes. We challenge them to check the records of the Senate of what we transmitted,” he said.

He said the House sent to the Senate in March last year Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 “authored by 302 congressmen calling for a constitutional convention to amend the economic provisions.”

“So wala pong nilagay doon na political. So I do not know kung saan po galing yung political, eh klarong klaro po sa tinransmit ng House of Representatives that that is for economic provisions that we really feel that in each and every Congress, sa lahat ng Speaker na dumaan dito…were trying to push to update that 37-year old Constitution,” he he said.

Dalipe pointed out that if there would be a plebiscite for the economic amendments that the Senate and the House are advocating, that would foreclose the conduct of a people’s initiative within five years.

“‘Yung ibang agam-agam na may people’s initiative, di na po magagawa ‘yun kasi isa lang po ang puwedeng intitiative for five years,” he said.

For his part, Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit, who heads the Nationalist People’s Coalition bloc in the House, said a people’s initiative and even Congress sitting as a constituent assembly cannot change the nation’s system of government.

“That can only be done by way of a constitutional convention of representatives elected by the people in a separate election. Hindi na kami ang gagawa nun. It’s very clear that it is not on the table,” he said.

He recalled that the House under the present Congress pushed for the calling of a constitutional convention in its version of RBH No. 6 because the Senate did not act on the larger chamber’s constituent assembly proposal in the previous Congress.

“Economic provisions only, voting separately, hindi rin tinanggap. So ang thinking this year, kung hindi n’yo gusto yun, eh subukan naman natin itong isa, so kaya ganun ‘yung verson ng RBH6 ng House ngayon. So with the latest development naman ang sinasabi nga is eh kung aayaw kayo sa RBH6 namin, eh di yung RBH6 ninyo, para maumpisahan na lang,” Duavit said.

He was referring to the Senate version of RBH No. 6 authored by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara.

It is entitled, It is entitled, “A Resolution of Both Houses of Congress proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, particularly on Articles XII, XIV and XVI.”

Speaker Romualdez has assured senators that the House would quickly adopt the Zubiri-Legarda-Angara resolution once they approve it and send it to the House.