'There's no better time than now:' Quezon solon pushes for Cha-cha talks | Inquirer News
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‘There’s no better time than now:’ Quezon solon pushes for Cha-cha talks

/ 11:51 PM December 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez on Monday pushed for the revival of discussions on Charter change, saying that building a “better normal” for the country “requires a better” Constitution.

In delivering his privilege speech during the plenary session, Suarez said he understood the sensitivity of reviving talks on Charter change.

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“I want to take the opportunity to talk about Constitutional Reform. It is an issue that we need to tackle in order to help our country build back better. It is even more critical to talk about it now that we are facing the devastating effects of multiple calamities and disasters, on top of a global pandemic,” he said.

“There is no better time to discuss constitutional reform than now,” he added.

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He said he “respectfully disagrees” with sentiments that “used to automatically shut down the discussion.”

“Kailan nga ba ang tamang panahon upang pag-usapan ang isyung ito? ‘Pag natapos na ang pandemya? Magiging chicken and egg lang ho iyong usapan – sinasabi na huwag pag-usapan ang reporma sa Saligang-Batas hangga’t may krisis, pero hindi ba mas mabilis at maayos ang pagtapos sa krisis kung maitatama ang kakulangan ng sistema?” he asked.

“At hindi ba magsisimula ang pag-aayos sa isang kalmado at mabusising pag-uusap nating mga mambabatas?” Suarez added.

He argued that during an “extraordinarily difficult time” needs “extraordinary solutions.”

“If the Local Government of 1991 is a safety mechanism to decentralize powers from the national government to local government units, then Constitutional reform is a focal extension of that pursuit of power-decentralization,” he said.

This, as he underscored the need to institutionalize the Mandanas ruling to assist local government units (LGUs) and ensure the Internal Revenue Allotment to be sourced from all national taxes.

He said LGUs are seeking “higher sources of funding” for their efforts to respond to the pandemic.

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“Matagal na rin ho ang panawagan for greater regional development. Napakaraming pag-aaral na ho mula sa ating mga eksperto ang nagpatunay na fiscal decentralization is the start of even, inclusive, and equitable development,” he also said.

He further pointed to the restrictions on foreign investment in businesses currently limited to Filipinos.

Tingnan rin ho natin ang ating standing compared to our immediate neighbors in the Asean. Huling-huli tayo sa FDIs (foreign direct investments) na malaking tulong sana para mapalakas ang ating ekonomiya. Iyong malaking decline ay dahil ho mismo sa ating economic and constitutional restrictions,” Suarez said.

Citing a 2020 World Investment Report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the lawmaker said the country’s FDI declined to $5 billion in 2019 from $6.6 billion in 2018.

“That’s a 24% decline in investments. That’s $1.6 billion dollars lost or P77 billion pesos na napakalaking tulong sana sa mga kababayan natin,” he said.

“We have around 2 million Filipinos who are jobless right now, and in recent news, one out of three Filipinos have experienced hunger in the recent months. The decline in FDIs from 2019 alone could have cushioned a large part of the damages of COVID-19,” he added.

Nevertheless, Suarez recognized that lawmakers should still proceed with discussions on charter change with caution.

Still,  he said: “We must pursue reforms to protect our own interests as a nation, but these interests will not be realized if we always shut down the discussion on charter change as if it is an unspeakable and absolute evil.”

“Our democratic institutions exist as checks and balance mechanisms, and safeguards against potential abuses. We have our laws, we have the electorate, we have our very outspoken and vibrant academic community, and we have the media to call us out if we step out of line,” he said.

“They all can be our critics and our collaborators to fine-tune the process.  Every voice builds on the democratic process, and looking at constitutional reform as our way forward to navigate the future is an equally important part of that sacred process,” he added.

/MUF

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TAGS:   Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez, Charter change, COVID-19, House, Nation, News
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