Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Solons air questions over approval of RP Baselines bill

Citing technicalities, lawmakers on Wednesday contested the ratification of the Baselines bill at the House of Representatives and said they are ready to lend their support should the measure's constitutionality be questioned before the Supreme Court.

At the weekly forum in Quezon City, Nueva Ecija Rep. Eduardo Nonato Joson said it is still uncertain whether the objection of Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz to the approval of the bicameral conference committee report on the measure was "timely" and whether it was properly acted upon by the House leadership.

"Hindi malinaw kung naaksyunan ng House yung objection ni Congressman Diaz [It is not clear whether the House acted upon the objection of Congressman Diaz]," Joson said.

The bicameral conference committee report on the bill was approved Tuesday evening after there appeared to be no objections to the measure's ratification.

In the same press conference, however, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño said there should have been voting - either through viva voce or nominal voting - on the ratification of the Baselines bill since it concerned the country's sovereignty, which he said is a matter of extreme importance.

"I think this is a matter of debates later [at the] plenary," said Casiño, saying he expects a motion for reconsideration to be raised in Wednesday's plenary.

Casiño also described the approval of the measure as an insult to the sovereignty of the country, particularly since it followed the Supreme Court's upholding of the constitutionality of the Visiting Forces Agreement through its ruling over the custody case of convicted rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

"Kaliwa't kanang sampal sa soberenya ng Pilipinas ang nangyari [This is a slap on the country's sovereignty]," said the party-list lawmaker, describing the bill as a "sellout to China" because of the exclusion of the Kalayaan Group of Islands and the Scarborough Shoal in the Philippines' baselines and their classification instead as a "regime of islands."

"I think this is something bordering on treason already," Casiño said, adding that, off-hand, he thinks the bill is unconstitutional.

Joson said he is ready to sign any petition that would question the constitutionality of the measure.

"Kung pipirma ang Presidente talagang kukwestyunin natin itong Baselines bill na ito sa Supreme Court [If the President signs this we will really question this Baselines bill before the Supreme Court]," Joson said.

The Senate and House panels in the bicameral conference committee approved the Baselines bill on Monday morning after less than an hour of deliberations. The two chambers of Congress then ratified the measure Tuesday afternoon. - JOHANNA CAMILLE SISANTE, GMANews.TV

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