The House of Representatives considered the approval of Charter-Change (Cha-cha) proposals next month.
Chairman of constitutional amendments committee and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said on Thursday that his panel would present its report on Cha-cha when Congress reconvenes on Jan. 20 after its month-long Christmas break.
“These proposed amendments have been thoroughly discussed and debated not only in this 18th Congress but also in the 15th, 16th and 17th Congresses. It’s about time that this present House already acts on these proposals and send them to the Senate,” Rodriguez said.
If House approves the Cha-cha proposals in January, Rodriguez said these could move into the Senate in early February.
“In response to President Duterte’s appeal, we have enough time to finish Cha-cha within the remainder of his term,” he added.
Duterte pleads for a Cha-cha
President Rodrigo Duterte made such a plea in July when he met with then aspiring House speakers Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros, Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque, and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte.
“We have to change the Constitution, whether federal or whatnot. I told the three…do it now while I’m here,” Duterte said.
The constitutional amendments committee on Wednesday consolidated six related Cha-cha measures into a still unnumbered resolution principally authored by Cayetano and Romualdez.
Rodriguez said his panel opted to endorse popular and less controversial proposals to hasten Cha-cha and hoped that the senators would have an open mind on the amendments his committee has endorsed.
The proposed changes affect only a few parts of the Constitution. They include the rewriting of economic provisions to authorize Congress to relax or scrap restrictions on foreign ownership of land and businesses, including mass media, public utilities and schools.
The other proposals are the changing in the term of office of House members, local officials and senators to five years with two reelections, the election of senators by region and the election of the president and vice president as one ticket to ensure a united leadership in the executive branch.
The president would still be limited to a single term of six years, while there would be no reelection restriction for the vice president.
At present, congressmen and local officials have a term of three years with two reelections, while senators are limited to two terms of six years each. Senators are elected nationally.
The Cha-cha resolution proposes nine regions—Metro Manila, Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
Rodriguez said the House and the Senate would have to approve any proposed constitutional amendment as a constituent assembly, with the two chambers voting separately and each obtaining the required vote of three-fourths of all its members.