Cooler heads must prevail on con-con debates | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Cooler heads must prevail on con-con debates

/ 09:28 AM March 21, 2023

Did you hear about the heated exchange between House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Senate President Migz Zubiri over Charter change?

The Speaker scored some burn points in the debate aired over media:
First : While senators are voted nationally, members of the House of Representatives, who have a foot in the national scene and another in their districts, have a more intimate feel of the public pulse; their keener sense of urgency for public service because their immediate constituency are their neighbors.


The hearings on Charter change at the House of Representatives have given the public the opportunity to listen to the pros and cons of changing the 26-year-old Philippine Constitution, created in the aftermath of the People Power Revolution. A result of those hearings is the House resolution and committee report calling for a Constitutional Convention (Con-con).

As we are in a democracy, the Senate cannot ignore the overwhelming support that the People’s House gave the Con-con proposal. Proof is that 301 people’s representatives co-authored and voted in favor of the twin resolutions on it; only seven voted against. After much deliberation, the people have spoken through their direct representatives. Now, it is the Senate’s duty to respect this people’s mandate.


Second: The attitude regarding Charter change needs to consider the following realities: The Philippine economy is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. We need to run double time if we want to catch up with the rest of the world, if not with our ASEAN neighbors. Singapore had eight times more foreign direct investments (FDIs) than we did last year. And for the same period, Malaysia and Thailand had about four times more FDIs than us.

Recognizing this, the People’s House saw the need to amend the restrictive provisions of the 1987 Constitution that have kept foreign investors away. If we want business activities that create high-paying, quality jobs in the country, we need more FDIs. We need to make the Philippines the most attractive investment destination in the region.

This is what the House of Representatives wants to happen, with its twin proposals for a Con-con.

And Third: What is the Senate’s performance over the last nine months? It has to keep pace with the People’s House.

Just nine months off the gate, the House of Representatives of the 19th Congress has also debated over and approved 23 of 31 urgent measures that it committed to the LEDAC (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory). These are the same measures that substantiate the administration’s 8-Point Socio-Economic Agenda.

A recent telephone conversation between the Speaker and the Senate President has rightfully lowered the temperature a bit.

So, what can be the next step of the two legislative leaders? A dialogue—perhaps starting between the rest of the Senate and House leaderships, and then later to include members of the respective committees tackling Charter change, then finally the entire Congress . At every stage, the Bigger House can explain its reasons for pushing for Con-con.


If the Senate chooses to be stubborn and refuse to listen to reason, the People’s House can choose to wield and exercise its numerous powers. For one, it can use its power to ignore bills from the Senate and not file corresponding bills at the House of Representatives.

But of course, that’s so many steps ahead. The goal is to get the decision-makers of both Houses on the same table in the same room and talk about fast-tracking the Philippine economy’s recovery from the pandemic through our much needed Charter change.

Government should declare if Degamo massacre is solved or not

It is exactly 15 days ago when cold-blooded armed men brutally killed Negros Oriental Governor Ruel Degamo, and eight of his provincial staff and wounding 16 others, mostly indigent citizens, seen worldwide on social media. .

Four gunmen, all former Army soldiers, were arrested, charged with multiple and frustrated murders. In the ensuing investigation, two of the arrested suspects earlier said a certain “Cong Teves” ordered the hit on Degamo. The fifth suspect was killed in the follow-up operation while the hunt for 12 other suspects continues.

The Task Force Degamo press briefing announced the surrender of the sixth suspect, reportedly the “main man”, who surrendered to AFP personnel in Negros Oriental. Also a discharged soldier, he is set to be turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation.

DILG sec. Benhur Abalos says, this suspect has vital and critical information , we hope will pave for the resolution of this case in the soonest possible time”. DOJ Sec. Boying Remulla told reporters, “There are circumstances that lead you to the conclusion that he (Rep. Arnulfo Teves Jr-Negros Oriental) was perhaps involved in the crime but the specifics of that, we cannot tell you now”. Earlier, DOJ spokesman Mico Clavano was more direct by saying that “Rep. Teves is one of those that we are suspecting to be the mastermind behind the Degamo slay.

The Negros Oriental representative has repeately denied involvement in the killings and refuses to return from a two month legislative leave of absence. He raised concerns on his family’s safety despite PNP’s assurances to provide security.

To the general public, these cinematic twists and turns in the Degamo murders are perhaps symbolic of the snail pace justice and too careful attitude of lawmen against criminal bigwigs in this country. A rampant and pitiful double standard we must all endure. People cannot really understand why masterminds are either not arrested or named outright, when the “identified triggermen” already confessed and pointed to their “employer”. We have seen this happened in the masterminds of the 2011 killing of broadcaster Gerry Ortega in Palawan, also on last year’s December killing of Percy Lapid, whose masterminds were indicted just a few days ago.

Task force Degamo, the people’s question is this. What’s the real score please? Is the Degamo massacre case already closed, or not?

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