Time runs out for cha-cha, no-el

The separate vote of the Senate will kill con-ass.

Right now, whatever constitutional modes in amending and revising the 1987 Constitution, whether through the constitutional constituent assembly, constitutional convention as well as the People’s Initiative (PI) mode, won’t and can’t fly, mainly because time is running out on the congressional rush to change the charter and bring about federalism which is hardly popular with the electorate at this time as recent surveys have shown.

Members of Congress can drop the idea of forming itself as a constituent body to amend, revise and/or draft a new Constitution unless, of course, both Houses agree on separate voting. And if this is agreed to by both Houses, the separate vote of the Senate will kill con-ass because the Senate will not be able to get the required vote to push charter change.

In the case of a con-con, where elections for the delegates are mandated, this mode too can’t be done before 2019 comes around since the congressmen and senators and other hopefuls are already, at this time, getting ready for the polls this early.

If moves to amend the Charter fail on two different modes, what is being floated today is the congressional resort to amending the Charter through the constitutional mode of the PI.

This is also likely to go the way of the other modes to revise the Charter.

The PI was twice resorted to and, when challenged, was junked by the Supreme Court. It is now a doctrine and can no longer be revisited.

The first time this PI was tried was under the Fidel Ramos’ regime. The second PI try was resorted to by the Gloria Arroyo regime. Both met the same fate in the SC.

The PI mode is also yet another mode to be tried but again time is running out even for this mode.

The PI is not that simple for constitutional amendments. For one, Congress, which means both chambers, has to come up with guidelines and rules, which translates to getting Congress to come up with a bill to be enacted under the law on the PI, and how to go about a PI for a constitutional amendment which will only rest on one amendment, which mode can be repeated to, once every five years.

Is there time for both Houses to craft the bill and enact into law the process of coming up with a PI?
Not likely. If the Bangsamoro Basic Law, to date, that is being rushed by the House of Representatives and the Senate for the State of the Nation Address of President Duterte, still hitting a snag over the issue over the central government giving the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) (that will run the Bangsamoro government, should the SC even decide in favor of the BBL) five percent of the national budget.

What the heck is so special about the MILF that claims to be the representative of the Bangsamoro people to be granted by law too much tax money which will likely be wasted, especially as the MILF rebels are warriors and have zero experience in governance. What has the MILF done to deserve this people’s tax money bonanza? For peace? It won’t be forthcoming as other Islamic rebels will cut off from the MILF and take up arms against the government. It has happened before and will happen again.

Then too, it will have to be the Commission on Elections that has the power to reject or approve a PI which would entail coming up with official ballots for a referendum to enable the constitutional amendment to approve of a referendum.

The Charter says “Amendments to this (1987) Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered votes of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein.”

The last two PIs failed to produce the percentages mandated by the Charter. The first time, signature tents cropped up the site where unconfirmed voters’ signatures were taken and not even approved by the Comelec. The last time, signatures were taken during a called for Barangay meeting and this was done without making it clear that the signatures were for a PI. Then too, this was done without the Comelec’s imprimatur. There was no way of checking the validity of the signatures and the homemade ballots.

Given the time element, and the sentiment of the electorate against federalism at this time, even if a law for a PI is passed by Congress, moves to amend the Charter has run out of time, just as the Comelec will also be running out of time to take this PI on.

It’s time to get real, Congress!

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