FORMER senator and former human rights lawyer Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. is an old guard. His hair is all white now and the wrinkles on her face have multiplied many times over. He therefore couldn’t resist condemning the inanities of the runaway train that is Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his storm troopers in the House of Representatives. Pimentel is speaking out and asking people to do the same.
In the recent hearing by the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and the revision of codes, Pimentel was there together with another old guard, the Cebuano former Supreme Court chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. Pimentel is for the shift to federalism but Davide, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, isn’t. But both frown upon the Alvarez-led push for charter change (Cha Cha).
“The end does not justify the means. Di pupuwede na sasabihin mo yun just to achieve a supposedly good purpose. Otherwise, even the good intention will be submerged in the mess of nonsense that is being advocated these days,” he said.
Pimentel was reacting to Alvarez releasing the “no election” trial balloon, meaning, dispensing with the 2019 mid-term elections, in which he and his House storm troopers will have to submit themselves to the electorate again, in the event the amendments to the constitution and the shift to a federal setup that he envisioned, would win in a plebiscite to be held in time for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections this May.
But the “no-el” scenario is not the only “mess of nonsense” that we are hearing from the House and the administration party PDP-Laban, the party that ironically Pimentel founded. There is, for example, the extension of the terms of elective politicians, the abolition of the Office of the Ombudsman, etc. Every “daring” (translation: kapalmuks) House representative seem to have a contribution to this “mess of nonsense.” As they say, each of them to his own entertainment.
Consider this other nonsense I heard from Alvarez, that the House, which has recently voted to transform itself into a constituent assembly (Con Ass), will proceed with amending the constitution without the Senate. This just shows that, by hook or by crook, Alvarez and his House stormtroopers want to amend the constitution and have the country shift to a federal setup before the 2019 polls—even if the senators become collateral damage.
Amidst all of these, 11 members of the Constitutional Commission (ConCom) that drafted the 1987 Constitution released a compelling statement on the matter. “Before we move further into uncharted territory,” they said, “the prior question seems to us to be: Do we need a new Constitution at this time? Is federalism the answer to address the critical of our people? What in fact are our priorities?” Good questions.
Now it seems like Pimentel’s call is being headed and more and more people are speaking up on the runaway train that is Alvarez and his House storm troopers. They are also exposing the “nonsense” that the Cha Cha proponents are throwing around. This early, I can see the writing on the wall: this runaway train is bound to be derailed once sensible leaders and people speak out.