Philippines: Economic Cha-cha bill filed at House

  • The administration’s Charter change (Cha-cha) initiative is still alive at the House of Representatives despite the apparent decision of its principal proponent, President Duterte, to skip it in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 22 Jul 19.
  • Comebacking Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on 24 Jul 19 filed Concurrent Resolution No. 1, which seeks to change the economic and political provisions of the Constitution.
  • Under his proposal, the phrase, “unless otherwise provided by law,” would be inserted in 11 parts of the Constitution that limit foreign ownership of land and businesses, including telecommunications and media.
  • This means that the present restrictions would be kept but Congress would have the power to relax or scrap them, Rodriguez said.
  • The Rodriguez Cha-cha measure does not advocate a change in the present presidential system of government, but proposes that the Senate be composed of 27 members instead of 24. The 27 would represent nine regions at three senators per region.
  • Senators, congressmen, local and barangay officials would have a term of office of four years with two reelections, for a total stay in office of 12 consecutive years.
  • The consultative committee (Concom) of President Duterte is not giving up on federalism even if he did not mention anything about it during his SONA.
  • Concom member and former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said he is still pushing for the shift to federalism and is still campaigning for it until the Filipino people will understand its benefit to them.
  • Pimentel said he understands why Duterte did not mention federalism in his SONA as he believes that it is something that can be done under his administration since he still has three years before the end of his term.
  • Meanwhile, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo on 24 Jul 19 reiterated his objection to the proposed amendments in the 1987 Constitution.
  • Pabillo again argued that Cha-cha under a Congress allegedly subservient to Duterte would not be beneficial to the people and to the country.
  • “It is not really so much about federalism but about extension of terms of sitting politicians and the complete and full opening of Philippine economy and natural resources to foreigners,” Pabillo warned.

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