Pangilinan: Do not test people’s patience by forcing Cha-cha
The Duterte administration should not “test the patience of the people by forcing Charter change (Cha-cha)” or their approval rating may fall further and their candidates “may taste defeat” in the 2019 elections, opposition Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan warned on Monday.
“We hope they don’t test the patience of the people by forcing Cha-cha, or the administration’s approval rating may fall further and their candidates may taste defeat in the coming elections,” the senator said in a statement.
Pangilinan issued the statement after a Pulse Asia survey revealed that two in three Filipinos, or 67 percent, were against current moves to change the 1987 Constitution, while majority oppose a shift to federalism. Given this scenario, he said the people would only “throw up a force-fed no-election and Cha-cha.”
“For the ordinary citizen, Cha-cha and federalism not only taste bad, they’re also not useful and satisfying, and may even be poisoned by ‘no-el’ and term extension,” he said.
This is because the people don’t see the benefit of these moves in their everyday struggle against higher prices of goods, lower value of their earnings, traffic, and the continuing violence in the streets, the senator added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, urged the leadership of both houses of Congress to take into account this overwhelming sentiment of the people.
“The fact that opposition to Charter change increased in the last quarter despite the aggressive campaign and information drive on Charter change for the past months speaks of the people’s strong opposition towards amending our charter,” he said in a statement.
Drilon said the people advocating for Cha-cha and federalism, particularly those in Congress, “who muddled the issue and are planning to use Charter change to suspend the election and extend their term,” should be blamed for the rising opposition against Cha-cha.
“There is no one else to blame for the rising opposition against Charter change but the very people advocating for it, particularly those in Congress, who muddled the issue and are planning to use Charter change to suspend the election and extend their term,” the opposition senator said.
Last week, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said it would be practical to suspend the 2019 elections to facilitate the country’s possible shift to a federal form of government.
But Drilon said: “Postponing elections means on July 1, 2019, when terms of elected officials expire, the President can appoint 12 senators, all congressmen, all governors, all mayors, and all local officials.”
He added that the survey results only confirm that even if Congress rushes the procedure and passes a new charter that will pave the way for a federal form of government, the people would reject it.
“So, why rush it when the resources and efforts that Congress – and the government – put into this Charter change movement can be channeled to other urgent matters affecting our countrymen such as inflation, unemployment, and rising criminality?” he asked.
The proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution being pushed by Duterte’s allies in Congress and by Duterte’s Consultative Committee (Con-com) could pave the way to a shift to a federal form government – one of his campaign promises and an advocacy of his political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Despite facing strong opposition, House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia earlier asserted that the lower chamber is not giving up on its push for federalism. /ee
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