Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday appealed to his colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate “not to burn the house down” amid the House’s attempt to amend the 1987 Constitution through a People’s Initiative (PI).
In an interview with reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony of the Philippine National Police’s new crime laboratories in which he was guest speaker, Cayetano said in amending the Charter, the process is as important as the final result.
“What I learned in politics is simple — it’s not just the results but also the process of getting there. Hindi pwedeng ‘the end justifies the means.’ Hindi pwedeng ‘Eh mali ‘yon, patayin mo o sunugin mo.’ You’ll burn the House down [if you do that],” the independent senator told reporters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on January 26, 2024.
He said the main reason the senators are rejecting the PI outright is that the proposed joint voting of the House and the Senate through a Constituent Assembly is a shortcut on such a crucial process.
“Y’ung results kasi talaga ang nire-reach-out ng mga senador. Shino-short cut kasi y’ung proseso na vote jointly. Basically ang sinasabi mo, (dahil) hindi mo maconvince ang mga senador, i-abolish na lang natin sila,” he said.
“If sila (House) naman ang kinakapon, they will be reacting similarly. Kapag binaboy at mali ang proseso, mali na lahat ito,” he added.
Also a lawyer by profession, Cayetano warned of the negative outcome that may mothball from the House’s attempt for a Constituent Assembly.
“Kapag pumasa itong proposal nila sa PI, mas madali pang baguhin ang Konstitusyon kaysa magpasa ng batas or to amend a law,” he said.
Cayetano also said the 24 senators, who on Tuesday stated their position against the PI, are not opposing it simply to protect their position but to protect the Senate as an institution.
“The reality is that when you are at war, everything stops and you focus on survival. For the Senate this becomes a survival issue not just because we are protecting our position, but also the institution,” he added.
This is why for Cayetano, both chambers need to sit down and talk.
“Ang pinanggalingan ng issue na nito, hindi daw gumalaw ang Senate sa economic issues so wala daw silang choice. Pero duda ng Senate, may political provisions din na gustong palitan,” he said.
“Kailangang mag-usap talaga,” he added.
Calling for cooler heads to prevail, Cayetano said he wants to be a sober voice between his colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“If I could be of service to the President, House, Senate, why not? That’s why I am keeping my opinion to myself para may matira pa rin na pwedeng makipag-usap,” he said.
Cayetano said this is important because in the end, it is the Filipino people who will bear the brunt of what he called “the start of a constitutional crisis.”
“[Dapat maayos ito] dahil sa huli, kapag nagsuntukan ang Kongreso at Senado, ang mabubugbog at magkaka-black eye ay ang taumbayan,” he said.
Aware that many people are using “PI” to stand for a Filipino expletive, the senator added: “Kapag hindi tayo mag-ayos, isa lang ang sasabihin sa ating ng taumbayan: PI.”