By Junex Doronio
MANILA– Saying they won’t allow themselves to self-destruct if ever there is charter change (Cha-Cha), pro-administration party-list lawmakers on Wednesday expressed belief that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco would only stick to amend the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.
“I am a party-list lawmaker. So I will not propose something that will lead to our demise… The Speaker’s direction is clear: just amend the restrictive economic provisions, no politics,” Ako Bicol Representative Alfredo “Pido” Garbin Jr. said.
Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera of Bagong Henerasyon concurred and pointed out that party-list lawmakers have long been filing bills proposing various changes to Republic Act 7941 or the Party-List System Act.
“There’s no need to amend the Constitution for that because a mere amendment to the party-list law is actually enough to improve the party-list system,” Herrera stressed.
Earlier, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III revealed that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wanted to eliminate the party-list groups in Congress as he directly accused the Makabayan bloc composed of Bayan Muna, ACT Teachers, Gabriela Women’s Party, and Kabataan of serving as fronts for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which has been seeking to overthrow the government through their “protracted armed struggle” for the past 52 years.
The Makabayan legislators strongly denied connections to the local Maoist movement but did not condemn the armed rebellion.
On the other hand, the election watchdog Kontra Daya noted that nearly half of the winners in the last party-list elections were political dynasty scions and influential businesspersons.
“If that is sole issue, then the solution lies with the Comelec (Commission on Elections) because under the Republic Act 7941, there is a ground in which party-list can be disqualified and their registration can be cancelled when they support violence or terrorist organizations,” said Garbin, who chairs the House committee on constitutional amendments.
On the proposal to amend the “restrictive” economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, Garbin said in an online interview that it may be approved by the House committee on constitutional amendments this week, if there will be minimal debates on it.
“Kung wala na masyadong tanong, at napagpasiyahan na ng members ng committee, we can approve the bill [this week] so we can proceed coming up with a committee report para ito ay mai-adopt at ma-refer na sa plenaryo,” the Ako Bicol representative said.