Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Drilon: No separate vote, no con-ass

Senator Franklin Drilon INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA
No senator will agree to joint voting when the time comes for a constituent assembly (con-ass) to decide on proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution because it means “goodbye, Senate,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday.
Drilon’s remarks came as Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV warned that a shift to federalism would only make the Dutertes, as well as warlords in the country, more powerful.
Trillanes scoffed at Malacañang’s assurance that President Rodrigo Duterte would step down in the event the country went the federal way on his watch.

Unfulfilled promises
“You will be naive if you will swallow what this President says,” Trillanes told reporters, reminding them of promises that Mr. Duterte had made but failed to deliver, including solving the country’s problems in three to six months.
In a television interview, Drilon warned that the Senate would become “irrelevant” if it voted jointly with the House on proposed changes to the 1987 Constitution in a Con-ass.
“I cannot imagine that the framers of the Constitution contemplated the situation where the Senate’s vote is just equivalent to that of 290 or so congressmen in a joint voting. No senator will agree to this kind of interpretation,” Drilon said.
On Tuesday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he did not think the Senate would support the move to amend the Constitution if Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III could not assure the senators that there would be separate voting.
Lacson was referring to a resolution that Pimentel planned to file this week calling on the Senate and the House to convene a Con-ass for the amendment of the Constitution that would allow a shift to federalism.
Without Pimentel’s assurance, signing the resolution would amount to “[signing] our death warrant,” Lacson said.
Separate acts

Justifying the need for separate voting, Drilon said the Constitution states that Congress, by three-fourths vote of all of its members, may propose amendments to the basic law of the land.
“Congress has two chambers. Where does it say that we must convene jointly? We can propose amendments to the Constitution separately?” Drilon said.
“We are a bicameral Congress and therefore, we act separately,” he said. “And if we vote jointly, goodbye [Senate].”
Pimentel earlier echoed the need for the Senate and the House to vote separately on proposed constitutional amendments.
Drilon said the minority was open to questioning the matter before the Supreme Court, as ultimately it was the high court that would decide it.
Railroading amendments
Speaking to reporters, Trillanes said he was against any moves to amend the Constitution because he believed the problem was not the country’s system of government but the people running the system.
Trillanes said he believed President Duterte’s allies were determined to railroad the amendment of the Constitution and that the talk of canceling midterm elections in 2019 and term extensions were intended to entice lawmakers to agree to a Con-ass to do the job.
He said the objective of the administration was to stay in power indefinitely.
Once Congress starts to work on amending the Constitution, this could no longer be stopped, Trillanes warned.
“If we are under an administration that can be trusted not to abuse power, [Charter change] can be done. But Duterte, who has no authority to kill people, is doing it. Will you trust him with tinkering with the Constitution? That is a trap. I won’t fall for that,” he said.
Trillanes said he had studied the federalism proposal and concluded that it should not be adopted in the Philippines because of the kind of politics in the country.
“It’s because political warlordism will dominate,” he said, pointing to political warlords who, because they are powerful in their bailiwicks, had no one to rein them in.
He also questioned whether there were members of the House who were “inspiring figures … who will be engines [of] change” since under federalism, congressmen will be ministers in the government.
Amendment resolution
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said he would resume on Jan. 17 the hearings on the resolutions of Drilon and Senators Richard Gordon and Juan Miguel Zubiri to amend the Constitution.
Among the matters that will be raised in the hearing is the question of joint or separate voting on proposed amendments to the Constitution, he said.
In a statement, Pangilinan said the hearing would discuss whether there was a need to amend the Constitution and if it should be, which parts should be amended.
The hearing will also tackle the question of how to amend the Constitution—by Con-ass or by constitutional convention (Con-con), he said.
It will also discuss joint or separate voting if the choice is a Con-ass, he said.
Also needing an answer, Pangilinan said, is the question of whether Congress can pass a resolution limiting the power of the Con-ass or the Con-con or whether their powers are plenary.

 

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Northeast monsoon, tail-end of cold front influence PH’s Thursday weather

Weather Satellite Image from Pagasa website
The northeast monsoon and a tail-end of a cold front are the two dominant weather systems affecting the country this Thursday, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said.

According to the state weather bureau, a tail-end of a cold front would bring cloudy skies with scattered rain and thunderstorms over Quezon, Mindoro, Bicol region, and Eastern Visayas.

Meanwhile, the northeast monsoon would cause cloudy skies with scattered rain over the Cordillera region, Cagayan Valley, and Aurora, Pagasa said.

As for Metro Manila, the Ilocos region and rest of Central Luzon, and Calabarzon, Pagasa predicted partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain in these areas for Thursday.
Mindanao, the rest of Mimaropa, and Visayas, on the other hand, would experience partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain due to localized thunderstorms, the country’s weather agency added. /kga

 

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1 dead as Quiapo procession took 22 hours after ‘fast’ start

Devotees patiently wait outside Quiapo church in the wee hours of Wednesday for the arrival of the Black Nazarene. —Earvin Perias

After initial reports commending its improved speed and crowd-control measures, this year’s mammoth procession of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo still took about 22 hours to finish — similar to last year’s record — and ended with one devotee dying of a heart attack.

Officials said Ramil de la Cruz, 51, complained of chest pains and stomach ache after jostling through the crowd and reaching for the rope of the carriage bearing the Black Nazarene image as it approached the corner of Hidalgo and Carcer Streets in Manila around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

De la Cruz appeared intoxicated when he and a male companion approached the medical station set up in front of Quiapo Church, according to Johnny Yu, officer in charge of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

He admitted failing to take his medicine for hypertension for two consecutive days prior to joining the procession, Yu added.

De la Cruz’s blood pressure had shot up to 170/120 but he repeatedly refused to be brought to the hospital, the official said.

Thirty minutes later, while still at the station, he had a cardiac arrest that prompted Yu’s team to rush him to Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.

“They (my team) were able to revive him. It was in the hospital where he suffered his second cardiac arrest,” Yu said.

De la Cruz, a former officer of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and a Black Nazarene devotee for decades, was pronounced dead around 1 a.m., according to the Manila Police District (MPD).

More than 800 people were hurt in this year’s procession, including one who sustained a suspected neck and spine injury in a fall, according to the Philippine Red Cross.

In the 2016 procession, two devotees died—one having seizures and the other suffering a heart attack.

Based on police estimates, the Jan. 9 feast also known as the “Traslacion” drew around 4.5 million people this year. MPD’s projections went as high 19 million if the turnout in the run-up events — like the “pahalik” vigil and the parade of Black Nazarene replicas — were to be counted as well.

The procession started at 5:07 a.m. on Tuesday at Quirino Grandstand and ended with the return of the Black Nazarene at Quiapo Church at 3:01 a.m. the next morning.

Supt. Erwin Margarejo, MPD spokersperson, said the procession was generally peaceful but noted that, after moving relatively fast on Manila’s main thoroughfares during the day, it slowed down upon entering the narrow inner streets of Quiapo.

The crowd also got bigger at night, Margarejo added. On Arlegui Street alone, the carriage or “andas” got stuck for three hours starting 6 p.m., and moved at a snail’s pace on Globo de Oro, Nepomuceno and Fraternal

 

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