No more Cha-cha this year; House panel to meet in 2021, says solon
MANILA, Philippines — There will no longer be any discussions on the controversial topic of charter change (cha-cha) this year after the House of Representatives’ committee on constitutional amendments opted to just meet in January or February 2021 so it could focus on pandemic response and budget deliberations.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who chairs the committee, said Thursday that this is in line with the suggestion of House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
“The Committee, following the Speaker’s suggestion will meet in January or February next year. We have to concentrate on the measures against Covid-19 and the 2021 proposed budget,” Rodriguez told INQUIRER.net in a text message.
Asked if this means there will no longer be discussions on charter change this year, Rodriguez said: “Yes, none.”
In July, Rodriguez announced that his panel would convene within the first two weeks following President Rodrigo Duterte’s penultimate State of the Nation Address (SONA) to discuss the charter change proposals of over 1,400 mayors in the country.
But exactly a month after Duterte’s SONA, the committee has not convened yet.
Nonetheless, Rodriguez filed House Bill No. 7430 which seeks to increase the share of provinces, cities, towns, and barangays from taxes collected by the national government.
The bill, Rodriguez said, seeks to reflect the recent ruling of the Supreme Court in the Mandanas case on internal revenue allotment (IRA) by amending the Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code.
In the Mandanas ruling, he said the Supreme Court “basically ruled that all references to ‘internal revenue’ in connection with the computation of IRA are unconstitutional.”
“The ruling therefore widened the base amounts for computing IRA,” Rodriguez explained.
Under Rodriguez’ bill, national taxes to be used as base for computing IRA shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
- National internal revenue taxes enumerated in Section 21 of the National Internal Revenue Code collected by the BIR and the Bureau of Customs;
- Tariff and customs duties collected by the Bureau of Customs;
- 50 percent of value added taxes in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Muslim Region in Mindanao and 30 percent of all other national taxes collected in such region;
- 60 percent of all national taxes raised from the exploitation and development of the national wealth;
- 85 percent of excise taxes from locally manufactured Virginia-type cigarettes and other tobacco products;
- Five percent of the 25-franchise tax on horse races
Rodriguez said provinces will share 23 percent of the IRA, cities will receive another 23 percent, towns will get 34 percent, while barangays will be allocated 20 percent.
“At this time of a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, more than any time in history, our LGUs need more funds to take care of the health and economic needs of their constituents,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
“The resources of the LGUs are fast drying up because of this pandemic,” he added.
The institutionalization of the Mandanas ruling was among the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the members of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP).
But Rodriguez said instead of amending the Constitution, his bill seeks to just amend the Local Government Code, at least for now.