Amid ‘Cha-cha’ talk, Recto says it’s political will that’s key to ‘sparking change’

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 12 2019 12:57 AM

Sen. Ralph Recto cited Manila Mayor Isko Moreno as “Exhibit A” in solving problems that do not require rewriting bylaws or the Constitution. File/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—Manila Mayor Isko Moreno only needed political will to clean parts of Manila, Sen. Ralph Recto said as he urged the government to implement laws efficiently to effect change in society.

Moreno has been praised for showing resolve in dealing with Manila’s problems, such as the city’s worsening urban decay and its depleted coffers.

Recto said Moreno is “Exhibit A of the reality that many of the country’s problems can be solved without having to rewrite the Constitution.”

“A change of plans, vision and management style will do wonders and spark change immediately, rather than the untested benefits that Charter change promises to bring,” Recto said in a statement.

“It seems that more progress can be wrought by seriously implementing whatever existing laws there are than in rewriting the basic law of the land later.”

Recto said while he recognizes the right of his colleagues to move for the amendment of the Constitution, proposals should be debated “in a manner that is exhaustive, not expedient; thorough, not truncated.”

“Any idea that is presented before Congress must win by the force of its arguments and not by the mere number of people supporting it,” he said. “Charter change must not be part of the government’s railroad program.”

Reacting to Recto’s statement, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said amending the charter is more than just about having the streets cleaned.

“Hindi naman kami mag-a-amend para maglinis ng daan. Kung iyun lang ‘di na kailangan mag amend ng Constitution,” Pimentel said in a Senate forum.

Talk of amending the charter gained traction anew after President Rodrigo Duterte last month called on Congress to amend parts of the Constitution even if this would not result in a shift to a federal form of government.

But Pimentel, president of the ruling PDP-Laban which has been advocating a shift to federalism, said a shift to federalism would lead to the strengthening of local government units which are often neglected by the central government.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, said the House of Representatives and the Senate would have to sort out whether the two chambers would vote separately on the charter amendments when they convene as a constituent assembly.

Lacson also expressed concern that some provisions in the Constitution would be changed to serve the interests of some politicians.

“Kung siguradong economic provisions lang ang gagalawin, pwede siguro pero hindi naman natin mapanghahawakan iyan,” he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said she and her fellow minority bloc senators are united against any attempts to change the Constitution under Duterte.

“So far, wala pang indication na binibigay ang administration na magiging totoo o tapat ang Cha-Cha sa ilalim nila. Kaya tutol kami sa prosesong iyon,” Hontiveros said.