Lawmaker urges Senate to keep an open mind and study cha-cha

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Lawmaker urges Senate to keep an open mind and study cha-cha
Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez called on upper chamber members to scrutinize and keep an open mind on the amendment of the 1987 constitution, amidst reports that the Senate keeps distance from the charter change (cha-cha) talks. 

“It’s just now, it’s not a priority of the Senate as they have said. That’s why we’re requesting them to keep an open mind and study (the resolution) thoroughly,” Rodriguez told The Source of CNN Philippines on Monday.

On Wednesday, the House committee approved the still-unnumbered resolution on constitutional amendments. This proposes a five-year term for all members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and also for local officials, excluding barangay or village officials. They can have three consecutive terms to serve. 

Moreover, it seeks to increase the number of senators to 27 from 24—three from every regions: National Capital Region (NCR), Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region. 

Rodriguez said the lawmakers believe that the proposed amendments would be advantageous as the Senate will have enough “representation” from diverse regions in the Philippines. 

“The senators, we’re trying to have senators elected by region, which is why I’m appealing to senators to think about this. We need to have really, representation from all the regions of our country,” he added.

House resolutions include the tandem voting for the President and Vice President in the elections, as well as a stipulation that would ease restrictions of foreign business ownership. 

The measure also seeks to limit the ownership of mass media to Filipino citizens. 

‘Definitely not approved discreetly’ 

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The oath-taking of elected House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano with the presence of presidential son and Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte (in gray barong) and other lawmakers, after being elected on July 22, 2019 | Image Source: Rappler

Meanwhile, Rodriguez denied the allegations over the “discreet” hearings regarding the passage of cha-cha

“Definitely not (discreet or secret),” the committee chairman said.

“We invited always the opposition, and the Makabayan bloc– they have been with us for the past five public hearings. We believe it was about time that we vote on it, because this issue has been discussed for four presidents already.” 

Rodriguez previously said the resolution was approved during an executive session as no resource persons were on board.

President Rodrigo Duterte said earlier this year that federalism (one of his main campaign promises in the 2016 elections) has remained blasted, as many Filipinos are still doubtful about it. 

However, on Friday, the Palace guaranteed that the chief executive will not intervene in the passage of the measure. 

A federal charter on third and final reading was already passed by the lower chamber in the 17th Congress, although no copy was filed in the Senate. 

The proposals are targeted to be approved by the House members by January. Once approved, Senate will then be signing the amendments by early February. 

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