Keep an open mind on Cha-cha, House reps tell senators
MANILA, Philippines — Less than 20 weeks after they started fresh three year terms, congressmen have cooked up a joint congressional resolution proposing amendments to economic provisions in the Constitution and changes to the terms of national and local officials.
The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments approved the Charter changes (Cha-cha), crafted in the form of a Resolution of Both Houses, on Dec. 11.
Although the still unnumbered resolution, will still undergo plenary debate in the lower house, committee chair and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is already asking senators to keep an open mind to the proposal.
“First I appeal to our good Senators to keep an open mind and study the proposals,” he said.
Although the proposal will only take effect in 2022, Rodriguez said senators also stand to benefit because it would allow them to stay in office for 15 straight years instead of the current 12.
Rodriguez said senators, whose six-year terms would be cut to five years under the proposal, would actually gain three years because they would be allowed to seek reelection twice.
“As to the five-year term of senators, they will have a net gain of three years. Now their maximum is 12 years. Under the proposal, they will have five years with two reelections or a maximum or 15 years,” Rodriguez told the Inquirer in a text message.
At present, senators can serve a maximum of 12 consecutive years, as they are eligible for only one reelection after a full term.
House members, on the other hand, are limited to three-year terms although they may be reelected twice for a total possible tenure of nine years.Under the new proposals both senators and House members, along with other local officials, will have five-year terms with the possibility of getting reelected twice.
The resolution also proposed to reconstitute the Senate with three senators, or a total of 27 senators from the current 24, from nine proposed regions.
“On the election by region we need all our regions to be represented in the Senate for the development of all regions of our country,” Rodriguez said.
Aside from changes in the terms of officials, the resolution also proposed to relax or scrap foreign ownership restrictions in real property, natural resources, public utilities, mass media, including advertising, and schools.“The economic proposals will increase foreign direct Investments which will employ more Filipinos and give more taxes to our government,” he said.
On Friday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson said little about the proposal since they had not seen it and Sotto noted that the Senate did not even have an idea there was such a proposal in the works.
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