Zarate twits Duterte, says obsession with Charter change a misplaced priority
MANILA, Philippines—Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate on Saturday hit the administration’s continued push for Charter change even as the Philippines is reeling amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Zarate, who is also the House Deputy Minority leader, said President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration’s “obsession” with Charter change is a waste of time as efforts could be used to fight the pandemic that has left thousands infected and halted what was considered as normal life.
“The obsession with Charter change shows another misplaced priority of the Duterte administration even if it is yet to fully address the CoVid pandemic in our country,” said Zarate in a statement.
“The move for Cha-cha especially now is a waste of time, effort, and the much-needed funds that should be re-channeled in fighting COVID-19.”
Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson, who’s also the chairman of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said that more than a thousand of municipality mayors are in favor of Duterte’s call for constitutional reform.
Zarate, however, said that there’s no point in changing the Constitution as the Philippines has yet to handle the medical crisis it’s in.
There are 63,001 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country with 1,660 deaths.
Zarate said the government has mobilized the Department of the Interior and Local Government, along with the LMP, to continue to push for constitutional reform that will be presented to Congress in July when the legislature’s second regular session begins.
“This Cha-cha (Charter change) move is utterly preposterous at this time and should be junked. The DILG and LMP personnel and budget being utilized for cha-cha should be realigned and used instead to fortify our health care system by buying more reliable personal protective equipment (PPEs) for our health workers, conducting genuine mass testings and intensifying pro-active contact tracing,” said Zarate who added that the cha-cha budget can be used for relief goods or boos the social amelioration program.
He also feared that charter change is a slippery slope that will start from foreign ownership of businesses to government officials being given extended term limits and allow 100 percent ownership of lands and other proposals that could jeopardize the citizenry and the country.
Zarate stressed that the Duterte administration has slowly gotten its wish of limiting the population’s freedom just to stay in power and it started with the franchise denial of ABS-CBN, then the Anti-Terror Law.
“The Duterte administration has slowly gotten its wish of taking away our liberties just to stay in power,” said Zarate in Filipino. “They denied ABS-CBN of a franchise, then passed the Anti-Terror Law, and now they’re pushing for charter change.”
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