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Evardone cries foul

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone yesterday branded as “unfair and unfounded” claims that the election of House Minority Leader Danilo E. Suarez was aimed at railroading President Duterte’s Charter Change via Constituent Assembly.

Evardone, a member of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, cried foul over allegations made by Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman that the super majority installed an alleged fake opposition group to fast track the shift of the current unitary-presidential system of government to federal.

“I think it is unfair to link the election of Minority Leader Danny Suarez to the change of the mode of amending the Constitution from Con-Con to Con-Ass,” Evardone said.

“I think President Duterte’s move was purely based on costs and other practical considerations. I believe Congress will exercise its independence as a co-equal body in discharging its powers in proposing amendments to the Constitution, particularly in the shift from unitary to federalism,” he said.

House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas rejected the claims, saying that there is no “inordinate fast-tracking” of Cha-Cha.

“It’s simply practical and plain common sense. A Constituent Assembly would spend no more than P2 billion, while a Con-Con, from P6 to P7 billion, and that figure is only for the election of delegates,” he said.

“The salaries of the delegates, the complete personnel of the convention, and the rental for the venue (seat) of the convention would cost at least ten times more than the election costs. Congress can earmark the estimated billions to be spent for a two-year Con-Con to other productive uses, such as education and health, or perhaps even mitigation of traffic congestion in Metro Manila,” Fariñas said. (Charissa M. Luci)