Filtered By: News

2 senators to withdraw support for federalism

MANILA, Philippines - Two senators on Wednesday said that they would withdraw their signatures from the resolution on federalism if they the administration will use it to push for Charter change and extend President Gloria Arroyo's term of office. The threat was aired by both Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jinggoy Estrada. Lacson said that he will re-think his position since Malacañang has poisoned the resolution with its "malevolent" design to push for cha-cha. He added that most of the other senators might also rethink their positions if Malacañang pushes through with its plan. "Sa nakikita nating takbo ngayon at ginagawa ng Malacañang mukhang gusto nilang sakyan ang Resolution No. 10 na propose ni Sen. Pimentel at pinirmahan namin. Ngayon kung yung masamang intention ng Malacañang mag-takeover sa intention ni Sen. Pimentel sa federalism, I think most of the senators who signed if not all will have to rethink their position kasama siguro ako doon,"Lacson said. "Kung ito magbubukas ng gripo sa extension of term limit ni PGMA baka maraming mag-iiba ng position," he added. Estrada echoed Lacson. "Kung gagamitin ang issue ng federalism dito sa Senado para ma-extend ang term ni Ginang Arroyo, then babawiin ko ang king suporta sa federalism," Estrada. They were referring to Joint Resolution No. 10 which was authored by their colleague, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, and signed by 12 senators. In it, Pimentel called for the creation of 11 federal states, including a Bangsamoro federal state. GMA News' 24 Oras said that Senate President Manuel Villar together with Senators Pia Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Bong Revilla, and Juan Ponce Enrile will retain their signatures in the measure. Enrile said that the claims of his colleagues are all based on suspicions. "You know all of these are based on suspicions," said Enrile. Administration Senator Joker Arroyo, on the other hand, sees Cha-cha on a different aspect, calling it the most pitiful result of the halted ancestral domain agreement. "The most pitiful aspect of this development is the fact that the memorandum of agreement [MOA on ancestral domain] has been taken over or covered by the news of the Cha-cha," Arroyo said. What was the signature for? Villar clarified that the signatures of the 12 senators on the "proposed resolution" only means that the measure would be formally discussed. "Nais ko lang liwanagin na ang pagpirma doon ay para simulang pag-usapan ang panukala. Hindi nangangahulugang ang panukala ay naaprubahan na ng Senado," Villar said. Villar said that it was a “proposed resolution" and this does not mean that the resolution was already passed in the Upper House. He added that the Senate has not even started to tackle it. Cha-cha would divide the nation Villar also said that any attempt seeking to amend the Charter could divide the nation. “Charter change can wait. It is too divisive an issue right now, when we should be concentrating on alleviating the economic difficulties of our people," said Villar. Because of this, Villar said that Charter change should be done after President Gloria Arroyo’s term in 2010. “Anumang pagbabago sa ating Saligang Batas ay dapat maganap pagkatapos ng eleksyon sa 2010. Inaasahan na ng taong-bayan na magkakaroon sila ng pagkakataon na iluklok sa puwesto ang karapat-dapat na mamuno sa 2010," Villar said. Senate Majority Floor leader Francis Pangilinan echoed the same call. He also warned the administration of a public uprising should it continue to push for Cha-cha before the end of President Arroyo’s term. "We are against Cha-cha before 2010, and if government recklessly pushes for it, this may very well be the spark that will lead to a people's uprising against this government," Kiko ended. Senators on Dureza At the same time, the lawmakers who signed the Joint Resolution No. 10 assailed Malacañang for accusing them of "flip-flopping" from their support to shift to the federal system of government. Villar said they signed the resolution so that the debate on federalism can start. “We signed the resolution to allow senators to debate on the merits and demerits of federalism and to see if this form of government can work in this country," said Villar. Earlier, Dureza claimed that the Senate should be blamed if its latest Cha-cha bid for federalism flops. Dureza said Malacañang’s bid was merely in support of Pimentel's resolution. Dureza made the announcement on Tuesday, a day after Mrs Arroyo said that she favors federalism to solve the rebellion problems in Mindanao. Lacson, for his part, said his concern on the government's current proposal to shift to federalism is a question of trust and credibility. "The concern we harbor now about Malacañang's backing for a resolution for a shift to federalism has nothing to do with our principles. But our concern has a lot to do with Malacañang's track record of political maneuvers," Lacson said. Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Escudero appealed to Press Secretary Jesus Dureza to stop passing the blame on the senators for their failure in Mindanao. Instead, they should ask themselves why the peace process did not succeed. "Don't pass the blame for your failure in Mindanao Sec. Dureza," said Escudero. "For a government who flaunts support for peace in Mindanao but who in itself derails the process by a muddled policy and road map as the bungled MOA-AD on BJE (Memorandum on Agreement on the Bangsamor Juridical Entity) would show, you don't need to look far than yourselves to see how fractured your peace plan is." In Malacañang, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said Malacanang respects the decision of some senators to withdraw their supoprt for the resolution, which was a factor in Malacanang's formal endorsement or expression of "full support" for the proposals Tuesday. "With some senators who are authors of Resolution No. 10 seemingly - for reasons of their own - no longer interested to push for constitutional reforms for federalism especially for Mindanao, our expectation that charter change towards federalism in Mindanao will not take off soon. We respect the senators' current position on the matter," he said in a text message. "Federalism is a way forward for sustainable peace for all Muslims, christians and lumads in Mindanao. We had hoped that the 16 senators headed by Senate President Villar would maintain their principled support to a convening of a constituent assembly to push for federalism as shown by their own signatures to Resolution Number 10, Unfortunately, this appears to be not so," he added. He added that depsite the threat to withdraw their signatures, the fact remains that it was the Senate that started moves to convene Congress into a constituent assembly, and not the President who "is merely being consistent with her campaign platform for consrtitutional reforms". "She believes that a federal setup is an aspiration of all Mindanaoans. Her strong advocacy for it is not a subterfuge for extension of her term. Resolution Number 10 does not provide for such possibility. Why some senators are not honoring their signatures in the Resolution is something for them to explain. But whatever it is, we respect their position on this. For ultimately, it is both the Senate and the House which will make the final determination on this matter," he added.- GMANews.TV