Press Release
December 23, 2018

House approval of draft charter Arroyo's early Christmas gift to Duterte - De Lima

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has lashed out at House leadership's apparent haste in approving a resolution endorsing the shift from a unitary to a federal government and the removal of term limits of elected officials.

De Lima said the House approval of Resolution of Both Houses No. 15 (RHB15) is an early Christmas present of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her allies to Mr. Duterte who has since worked on entrenching himself in power.

She maintained that Arroyo railroaded the passage of the RBH15, which passed through plenary debates in only three session days, to serve the political interests of Mr. Duterte and his allies, including Arroyo.

"RBH 15 is the latest gift from Mrs. Arroyo and her allies to Duterte who has repeatedly displayed his penchant for quick-fixes to the country's problems," she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 437.

"Duterte's push for Charter Change is meant to protect his and his minions' political interests and cover up their inability to lead and govern our people," she added.

Penned by Arroyo and filed along with 35 other lawmakers, RBH15, which proposes revisions in the 1987 Constitution, was approved by the House of Representatives before Congress went on recess last Dec. 11.

The measure has been drawing criticisms for its suspicious provisions, including the lifting of the two-term limit for senators and the three-term limit for district and party-list representative and the lack of an anti-political dynasty provision.

The former justice secretary referred to the railroading of the House passage of RBH15 is as "scandalous, outrageous and unprecedented" as the discovery of multi-billion "pork insertions" for lawmakers in the 2019 proposed national budget.

"Obviously, the House leadership's railroading of the passage of RBH15 is a typical trademark of CGMA who, like the proverbial thief in the night, was proclaimed the winner in the 2004 presidential election," said De Lima.

The lady Senator from Bicol reminded the members of the House that it is their duty and obligation to require a "comprehensive and open debate" on the proposed amendments to the Constitution instead of focusing on their greediness.

"The Filipino people have the right to a full and fair deliberation, given the wide-ranging implications of the proposed revisions on all our lives, and those of our children and even our children's children," she said.

De Lima urged the proponents of Charter change to stop misleading the Filipino people that the present Constitution is to be blamed for the problems facing our nation and that revising it is the only way to get us out of poverty.

"We must insist from our 'honorable' congressmen to answer the lingering question: How does revising our Constitution get the lives of ordinary Filipinos better?," she said.

While Charter Change has slim chances of securing the Senate's nod, De Lima said that even if HBR15 gets its way in the Senate, she has faith that the Filipino people will stand up to defend the present Constitution.

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