Pangilinan says ready to leave charter panel if told by Senate leadership, not 'paid' trolls

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2020 01:32 PM

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan speaks to reporters on May 23, 2019. ABS-CBN News/File Photo

MANILA - Opposition Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Wednesday said he is "ready to give up" the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairmanship if asked by the Senate leadership, "not because of the clamor of paid trolls."

The hashtag #OustKiko topped Twitter's trending topic in the Philippines on Wednesday morning after the senator's daughter, Frankie Pangilinan, appealed for help to "spread the word" that several groups were planning to "oust" the lawmaker from the panel.

"I am ready to give up the post anytime if asked by the Senate leadership but certainly not because of the 'clamor' of paid online trolls," Sen. Pangilinan told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

"Besides, the argument that the problem of COVID will be solved by Charter Change is quite frankly out of this world," he said.

Frankie Pangilinan, who has been outspoken on Twitter, said that certain groups want to remove her father from the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments helm to "make constitutional changes, allegedly in order to address the COVID crisis."

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the online movement was a "feeble effort by the one managing the troll farm to amend the Constitution."

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he has not heard of such moves: "Mabuti pa sila. Maraming alam. Better ask the mongerers."

(Good for them. They know a lot. Better ask the mongerers."

Sen. Joel Villanueva also said he has yet to hear of any talk that a majority member wants to take Pangilinan's seat in the Constitutional Amendments panel.

"Honestly, ngayon ko lang narinig 'yun," Villanueva told reporters in an online press briefing when sought for comment.

(Honestly, I heard of this just now.)

"I have yet to hear anyone, even chismis or rumors about it," he said, noting that lawmakers usually discuss changes in committee chairmanships among themselves first.

The Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes committee is the lone panel Pangilinan is chairing in the 18th Congress.

Under the Senate's rules, majority members are allowed to pick which committees they want to chair first, before minority senators can choose the panels they want to head.

Constitutional amendments have been among targets of the Duterte administration, with moves to shift the country's form of government to federalism. He later said it was OK if federalism may not happen within his term, but added that the 1987 Constitution must be changed.