By Charissa Luci-Atienza
There was no power grab, but a power correction.
This was stressed on Thursday by Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar as he disclosed that Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo strongly rejected the transitionary provision of Resolution of Both Houses of Congress No. 15 that excludes Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo from the presidential line of succession.
In a press conference, Del Mar said he and the Speaker Arroyo shared the same sentiment that RBH 15 should be “corrected” and amended. That it is why the Vice President was restored as the first in the line of succession for president in the resolution.
“I was in the Office of the Speaker to discuss CA matters, and during the discussion it veered towards, after we have already finished that, the issue came up. And so, both of us shared the sentiment that it needs to be corrected,” Del Mar told reporters.
During the recent meeting, he told Arroyo that he wanted to introduce the amendment in that provision to put back the Vice President as the first line successor.
“Now, she not only readily agreed. She said, ‘We can’t wait! That has to be done immediately.’ I said, ‘It is hard to get the motion to recommit to the Committee… it can’t be corrected right away. It’s kinda hard to do that. Unless the majority supports the motion.’ So, she said, ‘I’ll take care of that’ She called Majority Leader (Rolanda) Andaya (Jr.) and so that was the last,” Del Mar said.
“The Speaker really wanted to correct it as soon as possible,” he said.
During the plenary session on Wednesday night, Del Mar made a motion reinstating the Vice President in the line of succession during the transition to federalism in the draft constitution.
Del Mar’s motion, which gained the nod of the plenary, prodded Deputy Speaker and Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica, who was the presiding officer, to recommit the resolution back to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, chaired by Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso.
The recommittal of the controversial measure to the Veloso panel should dispel claims that Charter change (Cha-cha) opens up Mrs. Arroyo’s possible return to the presidency, Del Mar said.
“I don’t know of any power grab, I don’t think so in my opinion… There was no power grab much less any participation of the Speaker. In fact, her participation was after the error was brought to the fore, it was a power correction instead of a power grab,” Del Mar said.
The Cebu lawmaker said the provision allowing the incumbent Senate President to take over instead of the Vice President was a “weird” idea.
“That was, to me, an error… that’s weird, no? I cannot understand how it remained that way. I’m sure that there was an omission, because if you look at Section 8 also of the Executive Department, it states the normal line of succession: Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker, all that. So how can one provision be different from the other? So that needs to be really amended to follow the normal line of succession,” he said.
He expressed belief that there was “no intention” to violate the existing line of succession.