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House to rush charter change in ‘two months,’ says panel head Veloso

/ 08:37 PM August 05, 2018

The House of Representatives, which will begin deliberating the proposed amendment of the Constitution this Tuesday, would wrap up the process in “two months.”

This was the outlook of Rep. Vicente Veloso, newly-elected constitutional amendments committee chair, who said the 2019 election season should not clash with the process of amending the charter.

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“I want that by the time we’ll be filing our certificates of candidacy [in October], we’re done,” Veloso said in an interview at AM radio station dzBB.

He said that, even if the timetable would be extended, the Charter change moves would not prosper anyway if legislators would not want it.

“This is the President’s priority legislation,” he said. “Now, there are just things that are already beyond us. [The issue of] how to let the Senate cooperate, that is beyond us.”

Ousted Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had floated the possibility of postponing the May 13, 2019, midterm elections – effectively prolonging the tenure of current House members and local officials – so House members could focus on charter change and not be distracted by the elections.

The current Congress only has less than a year to finish the process, as the terms of their members are scheduled to end on June 30.

Veloso added that the committee would also formalize the preference of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the voting by the House and the Senate members to be held separately.

The two chambers of Congress got into a deadlock over the past few months, as the 23-member Senate feared being outnumbered by the 292-member House if the voting were to be held jointly.

Arroyo said on Wednesday that she would agree to a separate voting just so the process of amending the Constitution would move forward.

“There have been doubts on the Senate’s part… So, in the concurrent resolution, we will state there that both Houses would be voting separately,” Veloso said.

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The Duterte administration had pushed for the country’s shift to a federal system of government, supposedly to give the regions more fiscal autonomy and power over certain devolved governance functions.

Critics questioned, however, the preparedness of the country’s regions to stand on their own, the possibility of political dynasties being more entrenched in what would be their respective fiefdoms, and the fear that President Rodrigo Duterte would take advantage of charter change to stay longer in power. /atm

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TAGS: 17th Congress, 1987 Constitution, Charter change, federalism, House of Representatives, Vicente Veloso
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