Senate scuttles charter-change bid as it backs Marcos Jr.’s stand
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators on Tuesday voiced their support for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s plan to focus on other matters rather than amending the 1987 Constitution.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri described charter change (cha cha) as a “divisive” issue and noted that the Senate aims to first pass its 20 priority bills that are still pending.
“Kung gusto pong pag-usapan ni Senator Robinhood Padilla itong isyu on Charter change sa committee niya (If Senator Robin Padilla wants to talk about charter change in his committee), he has the mandate to do so. He can do so but it is not the priority of the administration, particularly we would like to finish the 20 priority measures that are still pending with us,” Zubiri said.
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, meanwhile, said that he agrees with the president that cha-cha is not urgent nor timely.
“May mga batas na po tayong naipasa para maka-attract ang bansa ng mas maraming foreign investors, at patuloy pa rin po ang Senado sa trabahong ito. Sa ngayon po ay kailangan muna natin pag-aralan kung ano ang epekto ng pag-amyenda sa Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investments Act at ang Public Services Act sa foreign direct investment sa bansa,” Villanueva explained.
(We have passed laws to attract foreign investors. We need to study the effect of amending the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Foreign Investments Act, and Public Services Act on the country’s foreign direct investments.)
For Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, amending the Constitution’s economic provisions is not urgent but there is a need to revise its political provisions. He, however, noted that it can still wait.
“What is more urgent now is to alleviate the struggles of ordinary Filipinos. If we can help them improve their daily lives, then we give them better chances in participating in the growing economy,” Pimentel said.
Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, stressed the influence of the President’s stand on the matter.
“The pronouncement of the President will definitely affect the consensus on the need for charter change. Kung hindi susuporta ang Pangulo, mas uunahin ng Kongreso ang mga nasa priority list tulad ng Internet Transactions Act o CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control) bill,” said Poe.
(If the President does not support it, Congress will focus on its priority lists like the Internet Transactions Act or CDC bills.)
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano pushed to concentrate on values and economy instead of Cha-cha.
Padilla earlier proposed a Cha-cha via a constituent assembly where the Senate and House of Representatives would vote separately.
Padilla noted that the public would not sense the nation’s advancement without Cha-cha.
But, Marcos said that Cha-cha is not his priority as “there are so many other things that we need to do first.”