THE House committee on constitutional amendments on Wednesday failed to approve several proposals on how to amend the Constitution after two Mindanao lawmakers nearly came to blows during the panel’s initial hearing on the matter.
Reps. Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Sur swore at each other and nearly mixed it up.
It happened just as the committee led by Rep. Roger Mercado was about to vote on a motion to adopt the proposal for Congress to convene into constituent assembly as the mode of rewriting the Constitution.
Pichay proposed that the senators be invited to sit with the congressmen in discussing the amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
He said the Constitution provides that any amendments to it may be proposed by Congress after a three-fourths by all of its members.
“We need to pass a resolution to invite the upper chamber [here],” Pichay said.
But Barbers replied: “Let us not pretend to be constitutionalists here. Let us not entertain such a stupid motion.”
Pichay said he was not proposing a motion but only suggesting a proposal to the committee for consideration.
That prompted Mercado to suspend the hearing.
After a few minutes, Barbers approached Pichay to ask what his motion was about, but Pichay did not like it. They soon swore at each other until Barbers left the room.
Because of the incident, Mercado moved to adjourn the hearing upon the motion of Rep. Harry Roque. And as a result, the panel failed to decide on the motion raised by Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia who wanted the panel to decide which mode would be used to amend the Constitution: Charter-change, Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Convention.
Barbers later apologized to the public saying his actions were “uncalled for.”
“It was just a verbal altercation. I apologize to the Filipino people.”
Pichay threatened to file an ethics case against Barbers.
Before the incident, Pichay confronted Rep. Rowel Gonzaga who insisted that the plenary should be the one to decide on the mode to amend the Constitution.