THE first hearing conducted by the House of Representatives on Charter change Wednesday was marred by squabbling between two lawmakers who almost exchanged blows had cooler heads not intervened.
Representatives Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Sur traded curses after heated discussions on the motion of Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia that the House should convene as a Constitutional Assembly to tackle proposals to amend the Charter.
Earlier in the hearing, Pichay made a pitch for ConAss saying it is the easiest and most cost-effective way to amend the 1987 Constitution and pave the way for the shift from unitary to federal system of government.
But when the committee was about to vote on Garcia’s motion, Pichay made a turnaround and said that voting cannot be done unless the House and the Senate are convened together. Others who opposed Garcia’s motion were Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque and Ron Salo.
The prolonged debate irked Barbers, who asked the panel’s chairman, Rep. Roger Mercado, not to entertain senseless motions.
When Mercado suspended the hearing, Barbers went to Pichay, tapped his shoulder and said “Putang ina mo! (You son of a whore!) to which Pichay responded “Putang ina mo rin!”
Some lawmakers tried to separate Barbers and Pichay, including Deputy Speaker and Pangasinan Rep. Primicias Aggabas.
At this point, Roque moved to adjourn the hearing.
Roque viewed the incident as an initial victory for groups opposed to Charter change.
“We have successfully derailed efforts to railroad Charter change,” Roque told reporters.
Barbers later apologized for his rage.
“I apologize to the public. That verbal altercation was uncalled for. If ever I offended anyone, I apologize,” Barbers said.
But he clarified that he is not apologizing to Pichay.
“My apology is not to him. What I did wrong was I spoke bad words which are due to his words,” he added.