Pimentel: President has no say in Charter change

The stand of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Charter change should not affect the legislative branch’s push to amend the 1987 Constitution, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Friday.

Pimentel explained this in a virtual interview when asked if he thinks that the House of Representatives’ push to amend the Charter has the backing of the President despite his earlier pronouncement that Cha-cha is not his administration’s priority.

“In the process to amend the Constitution, wala talagang role ang executive branch diyan o ang Presidente… May tulak man o wala, the legislators can proceed independently of the president. Kung may tulak man, pwedeng i-resist ang tulak. Kung walang tulak, wala ring effect ’cause we come up with our own independent judgment,” he told reporters.

“So I’m sure that our colleagues in the House of Representatives are aware na ganito ang situation and then they are exercising a…different kind of authority and power–that they are the representatives of the people as far as amending the Constitution is concerned, that they can separate themselves from the executive branch,” he added.

Pimentel also expressed belief that Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri must not consider Marcos’ stand on Cha-cha in terms of the Upper Chamber’s priorities.

He supported Senate constitutional amendments and revision of codes chairman Robin Padilla’s earlier statement that amending the charter is not dependent on the President’s endorsement.

“Dapat i-separate ni Senate president ‘yon na we will not consider the stand of the President or the executive branch [on Cha-cha],” Pimentel said.

Unlike any other bills, the minority leader explained that measures amending the Charter cannot be vetoed by the President.

“Pagdating sa amending or changing the Constitution, wala siyang (President) role d’on, para hindi nga ma-veto ng President. So dapat kami-kami lang ang nagde-decide d’on. ‘Wag na naming i-link sa position ng Presidente ’cause this is not a mere law,” Pimentel said.

“Hindi lang obvious , hindi lang madaling makita but that’s really part of the design of the Constitution,” he added.

While he explained this, Pimentel said his colleagues are not interested in Cha-cha.

“Wala akong nakitang excitement doon sa Senado about constitutional change,” he said.

As a stalwart of PDP-Laban party, Pimentel said he does not outrightly oppose Charter change but his colleague in the minority, Senator Risa Hontiveros, completely objects to any kind of constitutional amendment.

Pimentel said he is open to amending the substantive political provisions of the Constitution but the economic provisions are “not within his radar.”

“Sa tunay na PDP-Laban, we cannot be against Charter change as a concept kasi ang pinaglalaban namin medium-term to long-term goal ay federalism which really needs Cha-cha to be implemented,” he said.

In February, Zubiri said the Senate will prioritize measures identified by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) over measures seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Despite this and the President’s stand, Padilla, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, still conducts public hearings on his measures seeking to amend the so-called restrictive economic provisions of the charter.

In the House of Representatives, the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6 calling for a constitutional convention (Con-con) to amend the 1987 Constitution was already approved on third and final reading.–AOL, GMA Integrated News

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