Solons worry anew about Cha-cha window closing

Solons worry anew about Cha-cha window closing amid long SC battle

/ 10:40 PM March 18, 2024

Lawmakers have expressed concern about the window for economic Charter change closing soon as several sectors anticipate a long battle at the Supreme Court (SC) over the proposed amendments and the procedure’s constitutionality.

House of Representatives plenary. INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers have expressed concern about the window for economic Charter change closing soon as several sectors anticipate a long battle at the Supreme Court (SC) over the proposed amendments and the procedure’s constitutionality.

House of Representatives Deputy Speaker David Suarez said on Monday that the limited time to proceed with economic Charter change is a top concern for him — which he said stresses even more the need for the House and the Senate to come together and discuss next steps.


Suarez and other lawmakers were asked about possible petitions that would be filed before SC — with the consideration that petitions often take some time before being acted upon due to the sheer number of cases before the High Tribunal.


“That’s really my fear, that’s why it is important that the House and Senate agree because we are really pressed for time, and I’ve mentioned it many times in the past that the window of opportunity is closing soon.  Because by June, after the State of the Nation Address of the President we would start with the budget season,” he said in a press briefing at the Batasang Pambansa complex.

“So, the attention of our lawmakers may be focused on studying and passing the 2025 budget.  When October comes, that’s the time for the filing of (certificates of) candidacy.  So the window is really closing fast,” he added.

Suarez hopes Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri would fulfill his recent statement that Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 — the Senate’s version of proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution — would be passed.

“We are hopeful with the statements mentioned by Senate President Migz Zubiri that they are on-track.  I hope it is done in the soonest possible time so that the possible issue of constitutional challenge will have enough time to be addressed,” Suarez explained.

“On the issue of when to have the plebiscite, we’ll have enough time to address this because there are a lot of tumbling blocks that RBH 6 and RBH 7 will eventually have to hurdle and if we have more time in hurdling these impediments, the sooner we can have the plebiscite and the sooner we can put in place the amendments in our Constitution,” he added.

1-Rider party-list Rep. Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez meanwhile said that they are not implying that the process with SC is long — rather, it is because moves to amend the 1987 Constitution coincides with an election season for the 2025 polls.


“It’s not because the process at the Supreme Court is long.  Let’s say it is not a legal impediment to constitutional change because as we mentioned, it is within our constitutional power.  This can coincide with an election period for example or maybe the Supreme Court might decide the question of having the plebiscite so close or even together with any election,” Gutierrez said.

“But with that said, I agree definitely with what Deputy Speaker Suarez said that in a practical sense, this is really urgent.  Because like we’ve mentioned, we will be discussing the budget soon too and of course the election campaigning and the political aspects that come with it. So, for practical purposes the window is closing, and we have to act now,” he added.

This is not the first time that Suarez warned about the possibility that the Charter change window is closing.  Last February 13, the Deputy Speaker urged senators to act on charter change proposals because the House wants to avoid a plebiscite side-by-side the 2025 midterm polls.

Earlier, Suarez said he hopes leaders of both the Senate and the House can meet to discuss procedural questions about the economic Charter change when Congress goes on a break for the Holy Week.

Suarez said the ambiguity in the Constitution regarding how the basic law would be amended highlights the importance of a meeting between leaders of the two legislative chambers.

READ: Solon hopes House, Senate can meet on Cha-cha during Holy Week break 

After lawmakers passed RBH No. 7 on second reading last March 13, some members of the Minority have conceded that the battle at the House has been lost, with Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman saying that they will now appeal to the public — who will eventually vote in favor or against the proposed amendments.

READ: House minority concedes defeat on Charter change but continues fight 

However, there are still questions about how Congress would proceed once RBH No. 6 and RBH No. 7 are approved.  For one, the Senate believes that the two chambers should vote separately, while some members of the House believe all lawmakers should vote jointly.

Retired chief justice Reynato Puno also warned that making amendments through legislation may be questioned for its constitutionality.

READ: Puno cautions solons on phrasing in Cha-cha drive 

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The Makabayan bloc also signified their intent to question RBH No. 7 before the Supreme Court one the House approves it on third reading.

TAGS: Cha-cha, charter, Economic

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