SEN. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said senators were not keen on passing any measure shifting to federalism, especially now that the House of Representatives is led by Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The senator made the remark when asked to comment on the earlier move of the House to approve on third and final reading a resolution adopting a federal constitution.
Just before Congress went on recess on December 13, the House approved Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 15, which proposes an overhaul of the 1987 Constitution to shift to federalism.
“It’s still dead in the water especially so that the House passed their own version,” Lacson said.
“There’s nothing personal in this, but this is the sentiment of the Senate. When they changed the leader of the House, the majority, minority groups closed ranks. It’s dead in the water,” he said.
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima noted that “without public scrutiny, RBH 15 passed through plenary debates in only three session days.”
“Obviously, the House leadership’s railroading of the passage of RBH 15 is a typical trademark of CGMA (Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) who, like the proverbial thief in the night, was proclaimed winner in the 2004 presidential election,” she said.
Under Arroyo’s draft Charter, the president elected in 2022 will have a term of four years and will be entitled to one re-election — just like in the United States.
Opposition members of the House had decried the rush to pass the measure, which was approved through voice voting.
But Arroyo defended the passage of the resolution early this month, insisting that the proposal, which she authored along with several of her colleagues, had undergone deliberation of the 292-member chamber.
“It’s part of the democratic process. There was a debate, it was voted on and we sent it to [House members],” Arroyo told reporters.
Shifting to federalism from a unitary system is among the key campaign promises of Duterte, who promised during the campaign to spread resources and political power to the countryside.