Press Release
November 8, 2006

Villar on con-ass: It should be voting separately
says Chacha not in Senates priority list

Senate President Manny Villar, President of Nacionalista Party, is taking exception to news reports that he has expressed support for the proposed Charter change move via a constituent assembly.

Senate President Villar said today that he may have been misquoted, and that his statements may have been taken out of context.

I never said that I am supporting con-ass. It is not true that my position has changed, Villar said, adding that he was surprised by reports quoting him as having agreed to the House initiative.

The Senate President maintains that the Senate will remain focused on passing important pieces of legislation that have been pending with the upper chamber.

Right now, our priority is to be able to pass pending priority measures, which are vital to sustaining economic growth and promoting better services to our people, Villar said.

He said that high on the Senates agenda during the remaining sessions of the year are the P1.13 trillion year 2007 General Appropriations Bill; the proposed Biofuels Act, Anti-Terrorism Bill, Automation of Elections and other vital socio-economic bills.

Nagulat ako sa mga lumabas na balita sapagkat maliwanag naman ang ating mga binitiwang pahayag, said Villar.

The Senate President would also like to point out that Senator Juan Ponce Enriles resolution proposing the constituent assembly mode provides for a manner of voting, wherein the House and the Senate would have to vote separately on the proposed revisions, in deference to the bicameral nature of Congress.

The Senate President stresses that he adheres to this interpretation of the constitutional provision on constituent assembly as a mode of introducing amendments.

My position is very clear: it has to be voting separately. That has not changed, and it will not change, Villar said.

Villar also doubts if there would still be time to tackle the Enrile proposal, given the Senates hectic and back-breaking legislative agenda.

It is possible that the Enrile resolution may be tackled, but I dont think we have time for it. Masikip na yung schedule ng Senado, and we will remain focused on finishing our work on pending priority legislation, Villar said. He also wants to clarify that the Senate remains open to discussing the Charter change issue with the House, but that he sees no justification in having it railroaded. Bakit ba sila nagmamadali? My position is that we should discuss this issue and proceed slowly but surely. Why are we rushing into things which we might regret in the future? Pwede naman magkaroon ng Charter change even after the May 2007 elections, Villar said. The Senate President said he merely advised those advocating for con-ass to simplify their proposal by doing away with controversial and contentious provisions, if they were to market such mode of revising the Constitution. (end)

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