Zubiri: Senate divided on Cha-cha; debates would be a waste of time, funding
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate is divided on the charter change (cha-cha), and debating the proposal would be “wasting a lot of energy and funding,” said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Saturday.
Zubiri has been subject to criticism as the Senate leader, with some alleging low productivity. He believes that these accusations are the result of the Senate not prioritizing Cha-cha.
“Ang katotohanan wala talaga kami numero maski na gusto ko itulak yan, 3/4 votes ang kailangan sa Senado, which is 18 votes. Halos kalahati ng aking mga kausap doon, against charter change. Bakit pa tayo mag-aaway, bakit pa tayo magdidibisyon sa Senado dito sa usapin ng charter change marami pang [Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council] measures na pinagdedebatehan natin. Mawawala lang tayo sa pokus,” said Zubiri in an interview DWIZ.
(The truth is, we do not have the numbers even if I want to push that, ¾ is needed in the Senate, which is 18 votes. Around half of the people I talk to there are against charter change. Why would we fight and divide the Senate over charter change when there are so many Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council measures to be debated upon. We will lose focus.)
According to Zubiri, the time potentially spent in-fighting over Cha-cha could instead be spent to pass laws that will help the country.
He added that the Senate would not be able to generate the 18 votes needed for the bill to pass.
“Bakit pa natin gagawin? We are wasting a lot of time and effort, we are wasting a lot of energy and funding discussing a measure na wala naman tayong boto. Kaya sabi ko, it’s not a priority at this point in time,” said Zubiri.
(Why would we do it? We are wasting a lot of time and effort, we are wasting a lot of energy and funding discussing a measure that does not have the vote. That is why I said that it is not a priority at this point in time.)
Zubiri insisted that taking the time to go over Cha-cha is vital because once it is passed, legislators would no longer be able to intervene in any way. Should the constitutional convention pass, the delegates could also touch political provisions.
“Kung gusto nilang repasuhin from Article One to the last article of the constitution, pwede po nilang gawin yan, pati political provisions. Walang titigil sa kanila, walang makatigil sa kanila, kung yan ang gusto nilang gawin. Yun ang danger talaga,” said Zubiri.
(If they want to review from Article One to the last article of the constitution, they could do that, even political provisions. No one will stop them, no one can stop them if they want to do that. That is the danger.)
He also said that the current constitution is effective. Zubiri cited the recently passed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Sim Registration Act, Armed Forces of the Philippines Attrition Law, among others as an example that the Senate is at work, with the Maharlika Bill to be passed as well.