MANILA - The “original" PDP-Laban party will always be supportive of charter change, but not the “superficial” amendments being pushed by Senator Robin Padilla and some congressmen, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Friday.
What they want, according to Pimentel, is a kind of federalism that would carry important political amendments in the 1987 Constitution which are not necessarily targeting term limits and economic provisions that could be addressed by recently approved laws.
“Ang problema, nung nakaka-encounter kami ng proposal to change the Constitution on the economic provision eh, if we are true to the PDP-Laban basic principles and objectives, hindi po iyon. Hindi po economic provision, but more on political provisions. But again, not the superficial political provisions na term lang . System of government ang tinitingnan namin,” explained Pimentel, who also sits as the party chairman.
“Ang nakita ko kasing na-file ni Sen. Robin economic provisions eh, di ba ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ sa economic provisions … Masyado namang superficial 'yun,” he said.
Pimentel believes the recently approved laws on Public Services, Foreign Investments and Trade Liberalization Act must first be given the chance to be implemented to see their effectiveness before considering an amendment in the Constitution.
While his sole minority ally, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, is totally against charter change, he will be open to supporting such an act but only if what is being targeted by the proponents are the “substantive provisions of the system of government.”
“Wala sa radar namin yan. And then number 2, kung ija-justify naman nila yung political provisions, term of office lang at saka number of terms, hindi kami ganun kababaw,” Pimentel stressed.
He said original PDP-Laban members want to see are proposals that would push federalism, anti-political dynasty, and even the forming of a unilateral parliamentary form of government.
Despite his opposing views about charter change, and the pale support that Padilla is getting from fellow senators, Pimentel maintained that there are no funds wasted on consultation hearings because consulting the people is part of their job.
Padilla chairs the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes.
Pimentel also disagrees with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri’s stand not to prioritize Cha-cha just because the President is not interested in supporting it.
“Pagdating kasi sa amending or changing the Constitution, ang desisyon na 'yan, wala naman sa kamay ng executive branch e, nasa legislators 'yan … Dapat na-separate ni Senate President (Zubiri) 'yun. We will not consider the stand of the President or the executive branch,” he stressed.
“Unlike a law or a bill na pwedeng i-veto ng Presidente para hind maging law, pagdating sa changing ng Constitution, wala siyang role doon para nga hindi ma-veto ng president. So, dapat kami-kami na lang ang nagde-decide nun, huwag na naming i-link sa posisyon ng President because this is not a mere law … it weakens the institution, it weakens the Constitution,” he added.
In a scenario where there are sound charter amendments, Pimentel said he would rather support doing it via constituent assembly as only political families again would dominate the Constitutional Convention unless the opposition bloc will be allowed to inject provisions that will set so many disqualifications, he said.
Sen. Francis Tolentino earlier said the PDP-Laban party identified with former President Rodrigo Duterte has no official stand yet on Cha-cha. According to Tolentino, they have yet to talk about their stance on the issue.
Tolentino’s statement was in contrast to the earlier claim of his party mate Padilla that PDP-Laban members in the Chamber have already committed their full support to Charter change.
Zubiri earlier said he believes that his refusal to prioritize Cha-cha is what made him a target of "black propaganda" and a possible ouster plot.
He was pertaining to a report claiming that Malacañang was unsatisfied with his performance as Senate President due to the chamber's "low output" in terms of bills passed into law. The report claimed Zubiri "nearly lost" the Senate's top post.
The lower House is set to pass on final reading next week the implementing bill that called for a Constitutional convention to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
In the Senate, proposals for Charter change remain at the committee level led by Sen. Robin Padilla.