Charter change not a priority for now, says Palace, as DILG rallies support

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2020 03:11 PM

MANILA- The government's push for charter change is not the priority of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration for now, Malacañang said on Monday even as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) continues to gather signatures for the proposal.

Some 1,000 town mayors have expressed support for constitutional reform in the form of a resolution that will be presented to Congress after it resumes session next week, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said Monday.

Despite this, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted that fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is still the priority of the Duterte administration.

"Linggo-linggo, nakikipag-usap naman po ang Pangulo sa ating taumbayan at hindi po lumulutang ang charter change bilang isang prayoridad," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.

(The President addresses the public weekly and he has never cited charter change as a priority.)

"Ang totoo po, nakatutok po ngayon ang Presidente, ang buong national government sa pamamagitan ng IATF (inter-agency task force), dito po sa problema ng COVID-19. So, hindi po prayoridad ang charter change," he added.

(The truth is the President, the national government, through the IATF, remains focused on the COVID-19 problem. So, charter change is not a problem.)

Vice President Leni Robredo has criticized the timing of the push for constitutional reform, saying addressing the pandemic needed an "all hands on deck" approach. 

The DILG had said that charter change has always been part of the President's agenda, with Malaya noting that "we have to give it one final push if it will push through."

In December last year, a House panel approved four proposals to change the Constitution.