THE other Minority group in the House of Representatives fear a railroaded Charter Change (Cha-Cha), with Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas as presiding committee chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
In a weekly press conference of the so-called House Magnificent 7, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the Charter Change (Cha-Cha) issue should be given more time for debates and let the lawmakers state their opinions on the matter.
Lagman admitted that the appointment of Fariñas as chairman of the constitutional amendments panel is not against the House rules.
However, he cited Sec 7, paragraph 3 of Rule 3 which states that in the absence of the committee chairman, a vice chairman will take charge and be the temporary chairman, unless a member was designated.
“Under committee rules, the Majority Floor Leader, like other House officials, is only an ex officio member of committees and the chairpersons and the vice chairpersons are the presiding officers in that order,” Lagman said.
In the case of Cha-Cha, Lagman suspected that the purpose of the majority is to fast track the discussion and debates with the presence of the majority leader.
“House committee chairpersons must be wary of Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas’ presiding over committee meetings if chairpersons fail to fast-track the supermajority’s agenda,” Lagman said.
Last week, Farinas announced that he will be replacing Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado as chairman of the committee because the later was hesitant to manage the debate and instead wanted to pursue his task as Deputy Majority Leader.
“So we talked to the Speaker and the Speaker decided that I take over the constitutional amendments committee. He felt that since this is a big issue for us, I should be the one to defend it on the floor,” he said.
Some members of the panel have faulted Mercado for mismanaging the debate that ended in a verbal tussle and near fistfight between Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay.
But Lagman lauded Mercado for letting the solons express their opinion on the Cha-Cha, which is the democratic way.