House, Senate begin cha-cha talks next week


Posted at May 01 2008 02:50 PM | Updated as of May 01 2008 10:50 PM

By Carmela Fonbuena

House Speaker Prospero Nograles today said he is ready to sit down with Senator Aquilino Pimentel to discuss the Senate-endorsed Charter change aimed to turn the country into a federal system of government. But he clarified that he will support it if the implementation should take place after 2010.

"I'm sure next week, I'll see him. I will meet with Senator Pimentel to discuss this matter because this federal system of government is close to my heart as a Mindanaoan leader and I'm sure most of the leaders in Mindanao will agree that we have long clamored for it," Nograles said.

Sixteen senators have signed Resolution No. 10, which was filed last week.

Nograles is a self-proclaimed advocate of federalism. The first Speaker to come from Mindanao , he said it will benefit the region. Nograles said he was surprised by the Senate’s move considering its previous moves to shoot down efforts to amend the Constitution. But he said he welcomes the initiative.

"It's a pleasant surprise because the Senate has a long history of opposing any move to amend the Constitution," he said.

He added the intention of the senators to push for Charter Change would now erase the impression that Charter Change is a ploy by administration allies to extend the term of President Arroyo beyond 2010.

"I'm also glad that this came from the Senate and was filed by minority leader Nene Pimentel, signed by almost all the minority and opposition, so we won’t be suspected of doing this in order to extend the term of the President. At least this didn’t come from us," Nograles said.

Under then Speaker Jose de Venecia, administration allies moved to convene the House into a constituent assembly in 2006 to amend the Constitution. They wanted to a unicameral form of government, effectively abolishing the Senate. This came after the Supreme Court nullified the administration-backed People’s Initiative which also sought to amend the Constitution.