House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano plans to gather members of the House of Representatives for the discussion of Charter-change (Cha-cha), the divorce bill, and the re-imposition of the death penalty. 

Aside from that, the House would be conducting a survey to learn the opinions of the members on the three controversial matters. Members will be giving their judgments during the rest of their current congressional time off until the first week of November. 

“What do they think about divorce, about the death penalty, about Cha-cha and federalism? These are the questions we will ask them. We will move faster on those that there is consensus on. We will not stop committee hearings, but we will act with caution on those on which there is no consensus. We can all come together but we’re not stopping any of the committees from discussing these bills,” Cayetano stressed. 

He also emphasized that most of the members have conflicting views on these matters at the moment. 

“Definitely for impossible marriages, like in the case of a battered or psychologically incapacitated spouse, we have to find a solution. Some believe that divorce is the solution. Others like me believe that a democratic and accessible annulment of marriage, instead of divorce, is the solution,” Cayetano explained. 

However, given that consensus is granted, it is still important to accord these with President Rodrigo Duterte’s priorities. 

“We can act depending on our collective conscience, but we should balance that with the administration’s priorities. If there is no conflict, then we will have no problem,” he added. 

Cha-cha in the advanced stage 

Out of the three legislative proposals, Cayetano said that only Cha-cha is in the advanced stage of consideration from the committees. 

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, has been managing hearings on the resolutions. The amendment focuses on economic provisions which seeks to lessen the restrictions on foreign ownership of land and businesses, and also the lawmakers’ and local officials’ term. 

Rodriguez revealed that his initial consultations from resource persons and colleagues in the House showed positive agreement for the passing of Cha-cha. 

“It was felt that allowing more foreign equity participation could lead to more investments, and more investments would mean more income and jobs for our people,” he said. 

Joint Foreign Chambers, Makati Business Club, and the Management Association of the Philippines are among the business groups that supported the proposal. 

Aside from the relaxation or lifting of foreign ownership limitations, Rodriguez said co-officials also agreed to lengthen the term of office of House members and local officials: from the current three years to making it four to five years. 

“The prevailing sentiment was that the three-year tenure is too short for these officials to undertake meaningful reforms and projects in their districts or local government units,” Rodriguez said. 

He also stated that if the House members will push for the five-year tenure for congressmen and local officials, the senators would also be having a five-year term instead of six years. 


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