DEPUTY Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday urged his colleagues to leave the issue of Charter change (Cha-cha) to the incoming 19th Congress.
Rodriguez made the appeal a day after the House of Representatives referred Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7 to its committee on constitutional amendments, which Rodriguez previously chaired.
“Obviously, we have no more time to tackle the resolution and other Cha-cha proposals before we adjourn for the election campaign in two weeks, on Feb. 5. So let’s allow the next Congress to decide on Cha-cha,” Rodriguez said.
He said the 19th Congress should resolve during the early part of its three-year term what to do with Cha-cha.
“If we decide to pursue it, then we give it priority, along with COVID-19 pandemic response measures. If not, then we set it aside and focus on legislation. This way, we will not be wasting time and taxpayers’ money,” Rodriguez said.
He said it is also important that President Duterte’s successor indicate to his allies in Congress early in his six-year term what he would want them to do with Cha-cha.
“The President has no direct participation in the process of amending the Constitution. But let’s face it, he has a say on it through his allies. Let’s accept the reality that Cha-cha will not take off without the direct or indirect agreement ,” Rodriguez stressed.
Rodriguez pointed out that every constitutional amendment initiative since the Ramos presidency failed because it was pursued at the 11th hour, giving rise to suspicion that the outgoing administration and its allies were out to lengthen their stay in office.
“To avoid such suspicion and for Cha-cha to succeed, it should be done on the first year of the next Congress and the first year of the six year term of the next President,” he added.
RBH No. 7, authored by Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr., is the newest Cha-cha measure in the House.
Among other Charter changes, Gonzales is proposing that the President’s term of office of be fixed at five years with one reelection, instead of the present six years without reelection.
Rodriguez filed the first Cha-cha resolution, RBH No. 1, in which he proposed that the current presidential form of government be shifted to a federal system.
Of the seven constitutional amendment measures, only RBH No. 2, authored principally by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, has been approved by the House. It was passed on third and final reading on June 1, 2021 and sent the next day to the Senate, where it is still pending.
Velasco had proposed economic Cha-cha by inserting the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in certain provisions of the Constitution relating to the economy.
“We could have succeeded with the Speaker’s initiative if we had the support of the Senate,” Rodriguez said.