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Senate to repel Cha-cha moves during pandemic—Gatchalian

By: - Reporter / @KHallareINQ
/ 05:57 PM July 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate will push back against any attempts for constitutional reforms in the middle of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Thursday.

Gatchalian, in an online interview with reporters, added that for him, he doesn’t see a scenario that the upper chamber of Congress would even tackle any bill regarding Charter change (Cha-cha) proposals.

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“The Senate will push back. I don’t even see a scenario wherein the Senate will tackle this if it reaches the Senate,” he said.

For him, the issue of Cha-cha is “divisive.”

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“At marami akong nakikita magkakampi, maraming magka-away dito. And we don’t want that to happen at this time because we want a country united fighting [COVID-19],” he said.

(And I see that many will be divided on this. And we don’t want  that at this time because we want a country united fighting COVID-19.)

Previously, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said that the country’s 1,488 mayors were pushing for two charter amendments.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) was pushing “to institutionalize the so-called Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court in the Constitution and the lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in industries currently limited to Filipinos.”

Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs of the House constitutional amendments panel, said that he would call for a meeting after President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address to determine whether or not it would be appropriate to discuss Cha-cha proposals while in the middle of a health crisis.

“And once again, it’s also a bill that is I can say [dead on arrival] na ito eh. In fact, dead before it started pa nga eh,” he said about plans on Cha-cha.

(And once again, it’s also a bill that is I can say that is dead on arrival.  In fact, dead before it started.)

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But does Gatchalian see a possibility that Cha-cha efforts will push through in 2021? The senator said no, citing that it would be the year that the country would have to deal with economic issues left by the coronavirus pandemic.

Another reason he doesn’t see Cha-cha would push through, Gatchalian added, is that it is a “preliminary” to the election year of 2022.

“Touching the Constitution before the election year doesn’t send the right signal to our constituents,” he said. “Because you need the trust and confidence of our constituents when you open the constitution and to make sure this discussion on the Constitution is not self-serving.”

“ So timing is going to be a very big issue and 2021, in my opinion, is not the right time to even talk about this,” he added. [ac]

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TAGS: Charter change, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Sherwin Gatchalian
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