Senior lawmakers defend charter change initiatives

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2023 07:14 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2023 10:19 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) — Senior lawmakers on Thursday joined House Speaker Martin Romualdez in defending the House of Representatives' approval of 2 Charter change (Cha-cha) initiatives after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri aired his concern on the proposals.

Zubiri earlier said entertaining Charter change debates could result in the revision of the entire Constitution and forming of a unicameral parliamentary form of government.

“That’s foul, that’s pure speculation that has no basis at all. The House has no control over the executive agencies tasked to implement the three laws by issuing implementing rules and regulations (IRRs),” House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chair and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.

“My beloved Senate president from Mindanao may be seeing ghosts where there are none. He should overcome his fear of the unknown. He should give us, his former colleagues in the House of Representatives, and executive officials some good faith,” Rodriguez added.

Rodriguez said Zubiri’s allegation “is unfair to House members, especially our Speaker Martin Romualdez."

He said the House charter amendment initiative is aimed at rewriting the basic law’s “restrictive” economic provisions so the country could entice more foreign investors.

Ako Bisaya Party List Rep. Sonny Lagon maintained that House Bill No. 7352 will greatly benefit the country's economy, allaying concerns it was rushed.

“Charter change has been a core discussion ever since the term of former President Fidel Ramos. At lahat ng administrasyon since then, pinag-aralan na yan. Napakarami nang papers o position papers ang nagawa, especially on amending the rather restrictive economic provisions of our Charter,” Lagon said in a statement.

Quezon Province Rep. David Suarez urged senators not to set aside the work of the House of Representatives.

The 3 lawmakers issued statements a day after Romualdez defended the approval by the House of Representatives of the twin measures aimed at amending the 1987 Constitution, maintaining that these were thoroughly discussed even if these were approved quickly.

"Let me make it clear, though. All legislative measures approved in the House of Representatives were deliberated extensively and exhaustively — from the committee level to plenary sessions. All voices were heard before we take a vote. Lahat ng ito, dumaan sa tamang proseso at masusing pag-aaral," Romualdez said.

Critics of Charter change have accused the House of rushing the deliberations on the charter change measures.

Zubiri has indicated that charter change doesn't enjoy enough support in the Senate.

"It's not the priority of the president, it's also not our priority. Binabatikos na nga kami di namin natatapos yung aming legislative agenda tapos charter change pa pagusapan pag usapan charter change aabot ng taon taon yan so ang debate napaka tindi napakadivisive na issue ang mangyayari diyan baka di natin mapigilan na biglang may political amendments na ipapasok pagtanggal ng term limits, pag extension ng mga terms syempre magagalit ang taumbayan diyan," Zubiri said.

The 1987 Constitution requires a vote of supermajorities in the Senate and the House for any charter change initiative to fly. 


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