Senate majority short for cha-cha

The Senate received yesterday the draft Federal Constitution from the Consultative Committee (ConCom) that crafted the proposal but senators said the majority bloc allied with President Duterte does not have the number to propose contentious amendments to the Charter.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III personally received a copy of the draft Charter from ConCom head retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

With Puno were ConCom members former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Susan Ubalde-Ordinario, Arthur Aquilar, Laurence Wacnang, Eddie Mapag Alih and Julio Cabral Teehankee.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate majority lacks the number to pursue crucial amendments.

“We don’t have the numbers because to amend the Constitution, you’ll need three-fourths vote which is 18 votes. The majority only has 17. Who from the opposition or minority will join us? I don’t see anyone,” Zubiri said.

“Although some members of the minority are in favor of constitutional change but only on a piecemeal approach and not an overall Charter change,” he added.

The most that senators outside the majority are willing to accede to are changes in the economic provisions of the Constitution.

Review begins

Sotto said he will immediately distribute copies of the draft to all senators for their review.

“The first step is I will be distributing copies to the members of the Senate and talk to the chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, Sen. Francis Pangilinan,” Sotto said.

“I will distribute copies by this weekend and I will call all senators to a caucus on how to include this in our schedule,” he added.

Sotto said senators will have to review the draft thoroughly and still coordinate with their House counterparts on which mode will be taken to pursue Charter change (Chacha) for the Federalism shift.

Sotto said senators may agree to a constitutional assembly (con-ass).

Sotto said President Duterte expressed his desire to expedite the process through con-ass.

“We will have to make time. The way I am hearing it from ConCom and the President, this is indeed a priority. We will work hard to have time,” Sotto said.

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