House to hold 3 hearings on Cha-cha per week

House to hold 3 hearings on Cha-cha per week

Matcha (Movement Against Charter change) Youth Alliance

ANOTHER ‘ANTI’ More groups suspicious of the motives behind renewed attempts to amend the 1987 Constitution continue to emerge. On Wednesday, leaders of the Matcha (Movement Against Charter change) Youth Alliance add their voices to the opposition during a gathering at the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City. —GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

The House leadership on Wednesday announced plans to hold hearings “three times a week” on a resolution seeking to amend certain economic provisions of the Constitution and wrap up deliberations as swiftly as possible.

The majority leader, Zamboanga Rep. Manuel Dalipe, said the chamber would be convening as a committee of the whole from Monday to Wednesday starting Feb. 26 to discuss Resolution of Both Houses No. 7 (RBH 7) and “show our seriousness and… desire to push for those economic provisions.”


The resolution has a Senate counterpart, RBH 6. Before such a committee, the House measure will be tackled not by smaller, individual panels but already by the entire membership.


In a press briefing, Dalipe said “we’re going to hear it for a couple of weeks until all questions have been satisfied… With three hearings a week I’m sure we’ll be able to act with dispatch on this measure.”

The House announced the timetable for its side of Charter change (Cha-cha) proceedings even after President Marcos, in remarks made on Tuesday, reiterated that “the Senate will take the lead” in crafting proposed changes to the 1987 Charter and that “between the two houses they will come to an agreement.”

‘Repeat performance’

Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, senior vice chair of the committee on appropriations, stressed that the House was not trying to railroad the resolution, “but rather this is just a repeat performance because we have done this so many times in the past.”

She was referring to the more than 300 bills filed in the chamber to push constitutional amendments over the past three decades.

READ: Marcos: Why the row? Senate to lead Cha-cha


Resource speakers from various business chambers, economists and members of the academe would be invited, Quimbo added.

Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. said the committee of the whole would be holding three-hour hearings in the afternoons, before the start of the 3 p.m. plenary session.

“Time management would be an issue,” said Lanao del Norte Rep. Mohamad Dimaporo. “There would be a lot of homework within the leadership of the House to organize the individual concerns of the congressmen. But if taken up at the committee of the whole, this would be speedy.”

“This is uncharted territory,” Dimaporo added. “That’s why it would be really disappointing if the Senate will not reciprocate.”

Difference in mode

Dimaporo is referring to the Senate’s RBH 6, which was filed in January by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri supposedly to avert a constitutional crisis between both chambers.

The Senate started deliberations on its resolution earlier this month, after initially shelving it following accusations that surfaced in the media and during a Senate hearing that the House was behind the now-discontinued signature drive to amend the Charter through a people’s initiative.

The only difference between the House’s RBH 7 and the Senate’s RBH 6 is the mode of voting on proposed amendments: the first calls for a joint vote of all members of Congress, while the latter wants the two chambers voting separately.

On Tuesday, Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said that if there were conflicting provisions between the House and the Senate versions, a bicameral conference may be necessary to resolve them.

PI ‘under the bridge’

Also on Wednesday, senators said President Marcos’ latest remarks on the ongoing efforts to amend the Charter should finally settle the issue on how it should be done.

Zubiri thanked the President for reiterating that the 24-member chamber would “take the lead” in studying proposals to ease the Charter’s restrictive economic provisions, particularly on foreign ownership of businesses.

Mr. Marcos’ statement, Zubiri said, should also put an end to earlier efforts to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative.

“As far as I am concerned, the people’s initiative is already water under the bridge,” he told reporters.

“Rest assured that we are determined to come out with the best possible amendments that will help relax the economic restrictions of the Constitution that will benefit our people and uphold our national interest,” he told the Inquirer in a Viber message.

Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. said Mr. Marcos was “correct” in allowing the senators to continue deliberations on RBH 6, which sought to lift the limits on foreign ownership in three sectors—public utilities, education and advertising.

Zubiri, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda and Angara filed the measure last month after Zubiri’s separate meetings with Mr. Marcos and Speaker Martin Romualdez.

‘Political directive’

On Tuesday, the President confirmed the Senate leader’s previous statement that they had agreed to push for constitutional revisions through RBH 6.

For Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, the President’s statement showed that he “clearly trusts” the senators.

Sharing Zubiri’s view, Villanueva said “it goes without saying (that the people’s initiative should stop). Who wants (it) anyway? No one is admitting who’s really behind it.”

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said House members “should heed the statement of the President,” while Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian noted how Mr. Marcos made it “very clear that the Senate will dictate the pace and conduct of the hearings.”

According to Sen. JV Ejercito, the recent animosity between the Senate and the House could have been avoided had the latter honored an earlier agreement that senators would spearhead Charter change proceedings.

“The problem is that the people’s initiative efforts continued [despite] what was agreed upon after that meeting with the President,” Ejercito said.

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Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said the President’s allies in the House should follow his “political directive.”

“However, the President has been given no role by the Constitution in amending (its provisions). Hence, the President has to depend on those who have roles in amending the Constitution,” the opposition senator said. “Those who support the President should therefore follow his directive: Let the Senate take the lead.”

TAGS: Cha-cha, charter change, House, lawmakers

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