The chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments on Tuesday rejected the suggestion of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri for leaders of the two chambers to meet behind closed doors on the House Charter reform initiative.
“I am against any executive session or secret meeting on this matter. Let us be transparent. We are discussing the fundamental law of the land, not just a proposed piece of legislation. Let us not hide our discussions from the public,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.
He said lawmakers should avoid discussing anything in secret, except certain issues like those affecting national security, foreign policy, and the country’s territorial integrity.
On Monday, Zubiri suggested holding a closed-door caucus to prevent lawmakers from “grandstanding.”
But Rodriguez said the Senate president was again showing his “fear of the unknown” by anticipating that some lawmakers would show off in a public hearing.
“He should trust his Congress colleagues to follow decorum. He should not mistake passion for showboating,” he said.
As this developed, the PDP-Laban on Tuesday decided to support the push to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
The party’s Secretary General, Melvin Matibay, said members reached a consensus to come out on Thursday with a resolution manifesting their support to Charter change efforts.
Matibag said this will be announced once the resolution is signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte, PDP-Laban chairman.
A photo of the meeting of PDP-Laban officers shared by Matibag to the showed the attendees included Senators Robin Padilla, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino as well as Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez.
Earlier, Padilla, chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, threatened to resign from the party if it will not support Charter change.
Padilla has conducted public hearings on the issue in Davao City, Baguio City and Cebu City.
He was earlier advised by Zubiri to postpone Monday’s hearing on Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, which calls for a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Charter’s economic provisions.
Zubiri said in accordance with tradition and inter-parliamentary courtesy, House members should also be invited not as resource persons but as guests.
Rodriguez was supposed to attend Monday’s hearing, but his invitation was cancelled.
“I myself have appeared in the Senate several times in person and in Zoom to defend my bills on our regional hospital, our state university, the protection of our rivers and other bills authored by me,” Rodriguez said.
“I agree that the Senate and the House should observe parliamentary courtesy. However, what is not courteous, even in parliamentary terms, is disinviting a colleague from a co-equal body. Instead of dispensing with our presence, they should have proceeded to hear us,” he added.