WHAT, ME WORRY? Senators on Friday brushed aside Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez's call to the public not to re-elect senators who will not back the administration's proposed shift to a federal form of government.
Members of the Senate and House of Representatives are currently deadlocked over the charter change proposal. Senators have agreed to boycott a joint constituent assembly with the House of Representatives to amend the 1987 Constitution.
On Thursday, Alvarez asked an Ilonggo audience not to vote for senators who are unwilling to cooperate with the House's hasty decision to adopt a resolution to convene as a constituent assembly that would draft a new charter.
"I'm not worried [about] issues like that. I've been involved in 10 senatorial elections since 1987 and in my experience, negative campaigning on issues barely make a dent," Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian added: "It is unfortunate that the Speaker resorted to threats and even name calling to pressure the Senate to relinquish it's check and balance role as specified by our Constitution."
Alvarez also said in a speech that leaders or politicians who will not back the shift to federalism will be given a "zero budget".
Senators, however, were unfazed.
"I have yet to see the connection between federalism and developing the countryside. They haven’t even adequately discussed what type of federalism they want to pursue that will ensure this," Senator Francis Escudero said, referring to how the House hastily adopted a resolution to convene as a constituent assembly without debating on the matter in the plenary.
Gatchalian said a Senate hearing showed it is unclear if ordinary citizens will benefit from the proposed shift to federalism.
"Kulang pa rin sa pag-aaral ang mga ekonomista and dalubhasa kung ano ang konkretong pakinabang sa atin mga bagay pamilya. The only clear benefactors of this endeavor are the politicians who will perpetuate themselves to power," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon added that the "House cha-cha train will get derailed even before it leaves the station."
"The Filipino people will see the real plan in federalism: suspend elections, extend the terms of members of Congress, and do away with the check and balance system by abolishing the Senate," he said.