Senators think charter change still has a long way to go in 18th Congress

Maris Federez   •   July 10, 2019   •   933

Courtesy : HOR Facebook page

Some senators are still not sold on the idea of instilling changes in the 1987 Constitution in the 18th Congress.

This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s manifestations of pursuing the charter change.

Senator Franklin Drilon said it is still uncertain as to how senators will vote on the proposed constitutional amendment.

Drilon said, “(It is) difficult to predict at this time how the senators will vote. Senate prides itself as independent of Malacañang.”

“Plus, I sense that a number of my colleagues have a “moist eye” on the Presidency in 2022, and may not support an amendment which may lead to a shift to federalism,” he added.

Liberal Party president, Senator Francis Pangilinan, who held the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, meanwhile, said the fate of the charter change will depend on composition of the Senate.

“That all depends on the majority. We will see how it goes given the new composition of the Senate,” Pangilinan said.

Senator Ralph Recto, on the other hand, said he still wants to have the cha-cha proposal scrutinized.

“We’ll have to take a look at details of the cha-cha proposal,” he said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, believes that majority of the senators have not wavered in their stance regarding the charter change.

 “It’s a little more complicated than what the President and the House want. Why? We are simply back to the same question, which is to clarify the ambiguity of the provision in the Constitution that deals with the manner of voting by Congress constituting itself into a constituent assembly,” Lacson said.

He further said, “Again, in doing so, we are faced with a chicken and egg situation. If it’s via ConCom, do we have enough time to accomplish it before the end of his term?”

Neophyte senator Francis Tolentino, however, believes that the passage of the proposed change in the form of government can still happen during President Duterte’s term.

“Tapos na yung preparatory work ng ConCom. Yung ginawa ni former Justice Puno [The preparatory work in ConCom is finished. What former Justice Puno did], it was commissioned by the executive branch. May napadala na silang report at nasa infancy stage na yung kauna unahang version nito yung sa Bangsamoro. Hindi pa siguro huli ang lahat [They were able to send their report and the very first version of it – the Bangsamor- is already at the infancy stage. Maybe it’s not yet too late,” Tolentino said.

The proposed charter change was able to slightly move in the Lower House during the 17th Congress.

It was, however, stalled in the Senate until the Congress adjourned. (with reports from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

House Democrats deliver Trump impeachment articles to Senate

UNTV News   •   January 16, 2020

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi signs the articles of impeachment prior to their being walked across the Capitol to the Senate in Washington on Wednesday, 15 January 2020. EFE-EPA/SHAWN THEW

Washington – Articles of impeachment against Donald Trump were transmitted to the US Senate on Wednesday nearly a month after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to charge the Republican president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The seven “impeachment managers” appointed earlier Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to prosecute the case carried the documents across the Capitol to the Senate.

The Senate majority leader, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, invited the managers to return to the chamber at 12.00 pm Thursday to read the articles of impeachment aloud.

Following the reading of the articles, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is to be sworn-in as the temporary president of the Senate for the duration of the impeachment proceedings.

Roberts will then swear-in the 100 senators as jurors in preparation for the trial, set to begin Tuesday, when the Senate will re-convene after the Jan. 20 holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

“This is a difficult time for our country – but this is precisely the kind of time for which the framers created the Senate. I’m confident this body can rise above short-termism and factional fever, and serve the long-term best interests of our nation,” McConnell said.

“We can do this. And we must,” the majority leader said.

During an earlier signing ceremony, Pelosi said that the House was acting in accord with its “constitutional duty.”

“Today, we will make history, when we walk down – when the managers walk the hall, they will cross a threshold in history, delivering articles of impeachment against the president of the United States for abuse of power and obstruction of the House,” she said.

“This president will be held accountable,” the California Democrat said hours after the House voted 224-190 vote to send the impeachment articles to the Senate.

Pelosi selected Democrats Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Silvia Garcia as the impeachment managers.

“The emphasis is on litigators,” Pelosi told reporters. “The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom.”

Republicans hold 53 seats in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be required to convict Trump and remove him from office.

Pelosi held back on sending the articles to the Senate because she wanted Republicans there to guarantee that they would allow new witnesses to be called in the trial, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and Trump’s current acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

McConnell, however, wants an expedited process culminating in an all but inevitable acquittal.

Trump is only the third president in history to be impeached after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998-99, both of whom were acquitted.

The case against Trump unfolded after a complaint by a whistleblower from the intelligence community regarding a telephone call in July 2019 between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the US leader – in exchange for releasing some $400 million in military aid to Ukraine and setting up a coveted White House meeting for Zelensky – pressured the Ukrainian to investigate Biden for corruption although no evidence seems to exist on that score.

Trump, however, has consistently claimed that he did nothing wrong and virtually all Republican lawmakers have toed the party line that insufficient evidence of wrongdoing to justify impeachment and removal from office was gathered by House Democrats in their impeachment investigation.

Meanwhile, Trump prohibited administration officials who have inside knowledge of the activities and motivations surrounding the phone call with Zelensky from testifying before the House and also denied Democrats access to documents that might shed light on the matter, and this stonewalling resulted in the passage of the impeachment article regarding obstruction of Congress in its oversight responsibility. EFE

llb-afs/bp-dr

Senate suspends work for January 9 due to Traslacion

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Tuesday announced it is suspending work in the chamber on January 9, Thursday due to the annual Trasclacion being observed by the Catholic community in the country.

In an advisory, Senate Secretary Atty. Myra Marie Villarica said the work suspension is in anticipation of the traffic congestion and difficulty in commuting to and from the Senate.

“Please be advised that, as approved by the Senate President, Senate officials and employees need not report for work,” she said.

Villarica added that meetings, committee hearings, and other activities may still proceed subject to the discretion of the chairman, senator or office concerned.

“However, additional compensation may not be claimed for work rendered in the exigency of the service on this day,” she added.

Aside from the Senate, the Supreme Court earlier suspended work for its personnel in the city of Manila on Thursday.

The local government of Manila also cancelled classes in schools and suspension of work in all departments and offices under the Manila City government except for agencies that are involved in maintaining peace and order, public services, traffic enforcement, disaster risk reduction and management and sanitation.

Senate panel hearing on motorcycle taxi issues set on January 14

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A Senate panel has set a hearing next week to discuss bills seeking to regulate the use of motorcycle as safe and alternative public utility vehicles.

In a statement, Senator Grace Poe said the Senate committee on public service will hold the public hearing on January 14, Tuesday to tackle four bills on motorcycle taxi regulation.

Poe, who heads the panel, said she would also ask for updates from the Department of Transportation (DOTr) on the pilot implementation of motorcycle taxis which started in June 2019.

“The results of the pilot run will be an important guide for the committee in crafting the final version of the bill,” she said.

“Our ultimate goal is availability, safety and comfort for our riding public,” she added.

Poe also said that the cap set by the regulator on the number of motorcycle taxis and issues concerning ownership will also be tackled in the hearing.

The DOTr Technical Working Group (TWG) on motorcycle taxis earlier announced the extension of the pilot run of motorcycle-ride hailing services.

Aside from Angkas, the extended pilot run will now include JoyRide and Move It.

A cap of 39,000 registered bikers – 10,000 bikers per Transport Network Company (TNC) for Metro Manila and 3,000 bikers each TNC for Metro Cebu operations – was also set.

Angkas questioned the set limit, and claimed there was politics involved in the inclusion of JoyRide in the pilot run.

Poe hopes the hearing will find solutions to issues hounding motorcycle taxis, as well as other problems on the country’s transport system.

“The long lines of commuters waiting for rides leave no doubt that we need alternative public utility vehicles. We hope this hearing will help find solutions to issues on safety, legality and other questions that need to be threshed out towards an efficient transport system as a whole,” she said.

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