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Put charter change proposal on lockdown, ‍opposition solons urge

MANILA, Philippines — Opposition lawmakers scored the latest attempt to tinker with the Constitution as just another bid to lift term limits and urged the Duterte administration to quarantine the charter change (cha-cha) proposal of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP).

“What we need now is food and [work] for those who lost their jobs, not this dance of Cha-cha,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Sunday. “Cha-cha must be put on lockdown because it’s overly divisive. What we need now is unity because we’re facing a big problem.”

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“For me, the intention is to deter the elections in 2022 and, if it does take place, remove the term limits (of elected public officials),” Drilon said of the resolution of the LMP which claimed it only wanted to “institutionalize” a Supreme Court ruling on the reckoning of internal revenue allotments and ease restrictions on foreign ownership of strategic industries.

The LMP was referring to the SC’s ruling on Mandanas et al v. Ochoa et al (GR No. 199802) which included all national taxes in the reckoning of local government’s internal revenue allotments contrary to previous practice.

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But Drilon, a former justice secretary, argued there was no need to “institutionalize” the high tribunal’s decision because it is already considered “institutionalized” since it was issued by the highest court in the land.

“The interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court cannot be repealed or revised by Congress,” Drilon said. “The interpretation of the Supreme Court as to what the Constitution means cannot be revised … [it] has the sole prerogative and authority to interpret the Constitution.”

Former Rep. Neri Colmenares, current chair of the Bayan Muna party, also criticized the LMP’s declared intent to ease foreign ownership restrictions in the Constitution as an attempt to legalize China’s intrusions in the West Philippine Sea.

“Even with the still high popularity of President Duterte, nine out of 10 Filipinos believe that we should assert our sovereignty and Cha-cha is a way of surrendering it. Filipinos draw the line when it comes to fighting against foreign oppressors like China and the United States,” Colmenares said.

“The latest Cha-cha draft [Resolution of Both Houses No. 15],  which was approved by President Duterte’s super majority in the House of Representatives last year, deletes many provisions in the 1987 Constitution which results in the opening up of the Philippines to countries like China,” he said.

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TAGS: Charter change, constitutional amendments, Franklin Drilon, LMP, Neri Colmenares
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