House not out to abolish Senate

LEADERS of the House of Representatives on Monday assured senators that they are not out to abolish the Senate in their push for constitutional reform.

The assurance was made by Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit, who heads the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) bloc in the House, Deputy Speaker and Ilocos Sur Rep. Kristine Singson-Meehan, Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr., and Bataan Rep. Albert Garcia, who is secretary general of the National Unity Party (NUP).

They said any fear that the House is seeking to scrap the Senate is just in the mind of the one expressing it.

At the same time, they reiterated the support of the House and its leadership led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez for Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, which is pending in the Senate and which proposes amendments to the “restrictive” economic provisions of the Constitution.

The resolution is authored by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara.

The Senate has referred it to a special subcommittee chaired by Angara.

“With regard to the fears and allegations that the House would want to abolish the Senate, we would just like to let everybody know that as far as our party is concerned, there is no way we will be voting in any form to remove our five senators. And if we are not going to remove our five senators, then the other 19 senators can be assured,” Duavit said in an interview during the House party leaders caucus presided by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) president, that started late Sunday night.

The senators belonging to NPC are Legarda, Francis Escudero, Lito Lapid, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Joseph Victor Ejercito.

Singson-Meehan, who also belongs to NPC, echoed Duavit’s statement.

“To our Senate friends, kasi as part of NPC, we have five senators from NPC, and of course we will never abolish them. So we’re here to commit na hindi po masasama ‘yung mga usapang abolition ng Senate when we do amend the Constitution,” she said.

According to them, they are supporting economic amendments because if foreign investment come into the country, the employment rate will increase.

“At at the same time when the economy gets better, alam mo ‘yung basic social services na binibigay natin, laging sinasabi ng mga people from our district na kulang. Kulang ‘yung TUPAD, kulang ‘yung AICS, pati ‘yung medical assistance sa hospitals. But when our economy gets better, ‘yung collections, ‘yung funds ng government, tumataas na rin,” she said.

“So then maybe, there will be a time na kung nagbago nga natin itong Constitution, naging open tayo sa foreign investment, biglang lumalaki na rin ‘yung pondo ng government and our people will suddenly feel this,” she added.

Gonzales, a stalwart of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), said political amendments are not part of the Charter reform advocacy of the House.

“Wala po kaming sinasabi na i-abolish natin ang Senado, guni-guni lang po nila ‘yan. Hindi po ‘yun totoo,” he said.

“We will embrace RBH No. 6 because that’s the economic provisions. At ‘yan po ang kailangan ng ating bansa. At si Speaker, palaging sinasabi, we will embrace RBH No. 6 because itoy makakatulong sa ating ekonomya lalo na ating Pangulo,” he said.

Speaking for NUP, Garcia said, “I would like to assure our friends from the Senate that we are not supporting any move to abolish the Senate. We just want economic reforms so that we can improve our economy to produce more jobs, better pay, and better lives for our citizens.”

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, a Nacionalista Party (NP) House leader, appealed to senators for sobriety and parliamentary courtesy between the House and the Senate.

“Let’s work towards achieving what we want to achieve for the country. Economic reforms are the key in achieving the goals and the objectives of our Bagong Pilipinas movement. We pray for their support and we would like to appeal to them to look at the better picture of doing something good for this country,” Barbers said.

Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, who heads the Party-List Coalition Foundation, Inc. (PCFI), echoed Barbers’ appeal.

“On behalf of the party, we would like to urge the senators to support the economic change that we have been proposing in the last four decades. We need a double-digit growth for our country to alleviate the lives of our countrymen. And it’s for the past years already that there’s no innovation that our country has been making on the economic change,” he said.

“This is the only way. Many presidents and administrations have promised to alleviate the lives every election, but it never happens. So I think this is the best time that we will achieve this and a game-changer for our nation. Let’s stand together and help each other,” he said.

House Majority Leader and Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe expressed strong support to the proposal of the Senate to amend the economic provisions of the Cinstitution through Resolution of Both Houses No. 6.

“We are one also with the other political parties in supporting that. And we would like to remain focused on what we have to achieve for the Filipino people. So let us stop all of these useless bickerings and focus more towards those economic provisions in the Constitution that we have to amend. So let’s work, focus for the Filipino people,” Dalipe, Lakas-CMD executive vice president, said.

Camiguin Rep. Jesus Jurdin Romualdo said the country has been lagging behind its neighbors in attracting foreign investments.

“Makikita po na malayo na talaga tayo. With Bagong Pilipinas program, amending the Charter, baka naman, palagi namang sinasabi na walang asenso ang Pilipinas, palagi na lang bitin, palagi ang gutom ang Pilipino. But amending the Charter and I hope our counterparts in the Senate will look into this. Kasi ito lang talaga ang pag-asa ng ating bayan,” Romualdo said.

Deputy Speaker and Quezon Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez and Agusan del Norte Rep. Jose “Joboy” Aquino II said economic amendments to the Constitution will result to more jobs and livelihood.

“Ibinoto ang ating presidente dahil sa pagkakaisa. At ang kasunod ng pagkakaisa ay malimit ay pag-asa. At upang makamit at maisakatuparan ng pag-asa, kailangan natin ang pagbabago. At ito siguro ang nilalaman at nilalayon ng Bagong Pilipinas. Sinusuportahan po namin ang administrasyon ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos. Nagpapasalamat po kami sa kaniyang adbokasiya at nandito ang partidomg Lakas-CMD, inuulit ang aming suporta sa kanyang administrasyon. Gusto rin po namin muling ulitin sa Senado na wala dapat silang ikabahala. Sana huwag nilang isasara ang usapin tungkol sa pagbabago dahil ang nakasalalay dito ay ang buhay ng mga Filipino,” Suarez, Lakas-CMD treasurer, said.

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