Barbers, Pichay nearly had a fistfight at charter change hearing

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An exchange between Reps. Prospero Pichay and Robert Barbers regarding charter change nearly ended in a fistfight on Wednesday.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Discussions and debates during a Congressional session are not unusual – and these can get quite heated.

But on the first day of a charter change hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, an argument nearly turned into a fistfight between Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Barbers and Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay.

Pichay was opposing the proposal of Cebu 3rd District Representative Gwendolyn Garcia, for Congress to convene itself as a constituent assembly.

He instead proposed that Congress decide as a body of two chambers, by first inviting Senators to the House of Representatives. This did not sit well with Barbers.

"Let us not entertain senseless motions… Let us not pretend to be Constitutionalists here," Barbers said addressing the committee.

To which Pichay replied: "We are not pretending to be Constutionalists."

The incident prompted Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairman Roger Mercado to go into a short break.

But that didn't stop Barbers from confronting Pichay.

Barbers stood up from his seat, approached Pichay and cursed him. Pichay retaliated, pushing Barber's pointing finger at Pichay.

It could have resulted into a fistfight if not for Pangasinan Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, who intervened.

Kabayan party list Rep. Harry Roque immediately moved to adjourn the hearing.

Shortly after the incident, Pichay asked Barbers to apologize for his "unparliamentary acts."

"Not to me. To the institution. Because this is an institution where everybody should act as a statesman. Hindi ito palengke, [This is not a market]" Pichay said.

Roque, meanwhile, believes that despite the commotion, the lawmakers still had a fruitful discussion on charter change.

"I've considered this as a victory for those who don't really want charter change at this point but it was very clear. They intended to railroad the process but I think the democratic processes prevailed," Roque said.