Press Release
December 9, 2006

Senate shuns House challenge to dance Chacha
says congressmen in no position to impose 72-Hour
deadline for Senate to act on Con-Ass proposal

The Senate will not bite into a trap being laid out by the House of Representatives in its ardent bid to get the senators into joining the congressmens move to convene Congress and propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

The Senate under the leadership of its President, Senator Manny Villar, made this position clear today in response to the challenge made by House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. and other leaders of the majority coalition in the House for the Senate to approve its own proposal to amend the Constitution.

Our colleagues in the House are in no position to give us a deadline. The Senate should not be given any deadline on a very important and delicate issue as revising the Constitution, Senate President Villar said.

He said the senators are not in the mood for heeding the congressmens challenge, which many feel could be a trap aimed at passing the buck on the Senate and forcing it to dance the House Chacha tune.

Hindi maiiwasan ng sambayanan na magduda sa ginawang pag-atras pansamantala ng Kamara sa Con-Ass, Masyadong nagmamadali ang mga kongresista, at gusto pang ipasa ang sisi sa mga senador natin na ang nais lamang ay ipagtanggol ang konstitusyon at igiit ang legal at tamang proseso, Villar said.

Villar also stressed that Charter amendments is not a matter of life and death.

The economy is doing great. In fact, the economic indicators are very rosy the peso is appreciating, the stock market is bullish, and inflation is being kept at the minimum. I dont see why we have to impose on ourselves a short deadline in passing laws related to Charter change, the Senate President asked.

He said that from all indications, it was apparent that the House has panicked in the face of mounting public outrage over its Con-Ass proposal, with the Catholic Church and other religious and civil society groups joining forces to block the Senate-less Chacha Express.

It was very obvious that by sounding the retreat call, the House wanted to defuse the situation, hoping that once the public fury subsides, it will be Con-Ass altogether again, Villar said.

Villar said that far from the pressured by the House, the Senate will follow its own scheduled and conduct consultations with the affected sectors on the need and the mode by which the Constitution should be amended.

Villar said the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon is set to conduct a public hearing on Monday, wherein all concerned sectors are invited to attend.

Villar clarified that the Senate does not wish to pick a fight with the House, and that he could understand the feelings of de Venecia, who had been an advocate of Charter reform.

But they should not dictate upon us a deadline. We dont agree with the deadline, the Senate will not be rushed by anybody, Villar said.

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