"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

CHA CHA Dialogue

Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws, and his counterpart at the House, Rep. Constantino Jaraula of Cagayan de Oro, agreed to discuss provisions of the Constitution that could stand revisions.

Emerging from a meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council in Malacañan, Gordon told reporters that although the Senate has agreed to discuss the provisions, it has not changed its stand on Charter change and its bid to sustain the Senate as an institution.

"We want people to support [Charter change] because they understand it not because it’s for the good of the mayors, senators or the President alone. We are ready to talk with the House so negative things can be set aside," Gordon said.

Gordon said whether the Congress will adopt a constituent assembly, constitutional convention or people’s initiative as a mode of rewriting the Charter will depend on their dialogue.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the position of 22 of the 23 senators is that the Senate and House vote separately on any constitutional amendment. Drilon said he will leave the issue of a constituent assembly to Gordon’s committee.

Gordon said it was better to dialogue with congressmen on Charter change instead of airing their views in the media.

"For the first time, both the Senate and the House have agreed to talk. Diplomatic relations were established. I respect my counterparts in the House and I think now we can start talking about what we want," Gordon said.

He said it was Rep. Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. who proposed the dialogue, although Angara said it was a joint proposal.

Palace brings together senators, congressmen in Cha-cha dialogue
The Manila Times Reporters

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Gordon said that among the issues that the two committees would tackle was the question of “appropriate timing” to hold discussions on the proposal to convene Congress into a constituent assembly “or if we are going to meet as a constituent assembly.”

“After we have gone with the rules, (we can tackle) what are the amendments that we can agree on,” he said.

Asked whether he meant the Senate had now agreed with the House to convene Congress into a constituent assembly, Gordon said: “No, we only agreed to meet as committees to find out what are the things we can agree upon and then move on after that.”

Asked whether the dialogue managed to break the impasse between the Senate and the House regarding Charter change, Gordon said: “It breaks the name calling, the backbiting, and we can start talking again in terms of what we can do and that’s important, that’s a big, big push.”

Senate, House OK dialogue on Charter change
May 17, 2006
By Juliet Labog-Javellana, Christine Avendano
With reports from Michael Lim Ubac and TJ Burgonio

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Lawmakers on both sides agreed to hold dialogues through their committees to set aside differences, find common areas and stop "negative things" coming from either chamber over efforts to amend the Constitution.

"Our (Senate) positions have hardened perhaps with the statements emanating from the House. As far as I’m concerned, we have never closed our minds to constitutional amendments," Gordon said.

Gordon admitted the move for both committees to thresh out issues, particularly on whether both chambers of Congress would be voting separately or jointly in the constituent assembly, was meant to avoid having to bring the matter to the Supreme Court.

He said it would be premature to say the Senate was agreeable to a constituent assembly but he pointed out the constitutional convention (con-con) mode is too expensive while the ongoing people’s initiative is strongly opposed by the Senate.

Gordon said the con-con, while it is the ideal mode, would be more suitable if the Charter were to be completely overhauled. With only a few amendments to be made, he said "you can do it by way of the constituent assembly."

When asked the whether the dialogue would result in senators and congressmen agreeing on which mode of Charter change to use, he said: "That could be, that could be."

Asked to comment on perceptions that the Senate had finally agreed to talk with the House because of the strong response to the people’s initiative, Gordon believes "it’s the House that softened up."

However, he said, unlike the House, the Senate does not consider amending the Constitution an urgent matter.

Both constitutional committee chairmen differ on the "soft issues" to be initially discussed. For Gordon, what is easy to resolve is the timing and the mode of amending the Constitution while the amendments, particularly the change in the form of government, would be very contentious.

Senate, House to resolve differences on con-ass
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star 05/17/2006
With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy, Aurea Calica, Cecille Suerte Felipe