'Pinakawalanghiya': Opposition hits House's draft charter

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition lawmakers denounced the House of Representatives' approval of its controversial draft federal constitution, with one congressman calling it the "most shameless" among all charter change attempts in the country.

On Tuesday, December 11, lawmakers approved on 3rd and final reading Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 15, which contains the lower chamber's proposed constitution that would shift the Philippines to federalism. RBH 15 got 224 affirmative votes, 22 no votes, and 3 abstentions. (READ: LIST: Major constitutional changes the House wants under federalism

Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao said that out of all moves to amend the 1987 Constitution since the Ramos administration, this attempt under the Duterte presidency is the worst.

"Madam Speaker, ang kinatawang ito ay bumoboto ng no dahil sa lahat ng mga pagtangkang baguhin o amyendahan ang ating Saligang Batas, simula noong panahon ni President [Fidel] Ramos hanggang sa kasalukuyang dispensasyon, ang RBH 15 ang pinakamasahol. Sa walang duda: Ito ang pinakawalanghiya," said Casilao.

(Madam Speaker, this representative is voting no because out of all attempts to change or amend our Constitution since the time of President Ramos to the current period, RBH 15 is the worst. No doubt about it: This is the most shameless.)

"Kinakatawan ng RBH 15 na ito ang lahat ng mali at bisyo ng ating pamahalaan at lipunan at kagahaman ng oligarkiya na nangingibabaw sa ating ekonomiya at politika. Nilalaman nito ang mga probisyon na nagbubusog sa makasariling interes ng iilan, magpapalakas sa kanilang pagmonopolyo sa kapangyarihang ekonomiya at politika, at magpapatindi sa pagkatuta ng ating bansa sa mga dayuhan," added Casilao.

(RBH 15 represents everything that is wrong with our government and society as well as the greed of oligarchs who rule over our economy and politics. It contains provisions that serve the interests of a few, strengthen the monopoly over our economy and politics, and worsen our country's subservience to foreigners.)

RBH 15 has been drawing flak for its controversial provisions, including the removal of the anti-political dynasty provision, lifting of the two term-limit for senators and the 3-term limit for district and party-list representatives, and the revival of the two-party system. 

Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao also questioned the removal of the provision on an "independent national economy."

"Hahayaan ba natin na ang mga dayuhan ang magmamay-ari ng mga serbisyo at pasilidad? Papayag ba tayo na ikokompromiso rin natin ang pagmamay-ari ng mga lupain ng mga Pilipino sa pamamagitan ng pagdagdag ng mga salitang 'unless otherwise provided by law?' Ito ay kapinsalaan lalo na sa mga magsasaka at katutubong Pilipino," said Bag-ao.

(Do we let foreigners own our services and facilities? Do we allow compromises on ownership of lands by Filipinos by adding the words "unless otherwise provided by law"? This would hurt our farmers and indigenous Filipinos.) 

Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte then slammed the swift passage of RBH 15, with the House dedicating only 3 session days for plenary debates. 

"Three days to debate a measure to change our constitution, ladies and gentlemen. For a resolution that seeks to change the very character of our nation and the fundamental workings of our government, it is a disservice to our constituents. Three session days: there will be questions that will be unanswered," said Belmonte.

While the House already approved RBH 15, its chances of approval in the Senate remain bleak. Senators already said it would be "dead on arrival" in the upper chamber. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.