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Revived cha-cha move draws mixed reactions among senators

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A revived move to change the economic provision of the 1987 Constitution has drawn mixed reactions among the senators with majority of them expressing concerns over the timing of the charter change.

Senators Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero, Loren Legarda and Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan said the move to amend the Constitution should not be the priority of Congress but Senator Franklin Drilon believed it was the ‘best time’ to discuss it.

”It’s okay to discuss, I have no objections to studying and discussing it but I have yet to be convinced that this is needed at this time and should be a priority,” Escudero said.

”While charter change remains and will always be an important political exercise in a dynamic society for such to progress and endure, timing and adequate resources to push for such move should be carefully factored in,” the Senate committee on justice chairman said.

Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on foreign affairs, said there were other priority agenda that should be discussed by Congress, including the job creation and foods.

”Whether it would be prioritized, it’s up to the President (Benigno Aquino III) but there is so much priority on the table. The priority should be on food and job creation,” Legarda said.

Pangilinan said the problem in the country was not the Constitution but poor implementation of the laws.

”It is not the Constitution per se but our collective failure to implement the fundamental law. That is the problem. Hundreds of laws already enacted but have yet to see full implementation and here we go again pushing to rewrite more laws,” Pangilinan said.

Drilon, however, believed that it was the best time to amend the Constitution “now that the President has expressed no interest of doing it and therefore, we are assured that he is not interested also of extending his term.”

”This is not the priority but we intend to present it to the President to justify the need and, to me, more than other any time, this is the best time to change the Constitution,” Drilon said.

Drilon allayed fears that the Cha-cha will be used to prolong the term of the elected government officials specially the lawmakers, saying the amendment will be focused “only” on the economic provision.

”This is the best time to look at the economic provision of the Constitution. When else we do this. This will be transparent. If it is not acceptable, then we will not go through it,” Drilon said.

Drilon said they were now working on the mechanics and the manner to which the charter would be amended to be presented in the next legislative summit after the October break.

Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano admitted that he was surprised when the charter change has been discussed during the First Legislative Summit last Thursday at the Shangri-la Hotel.

”I was surprised because the agenda didn’t include anything about Cha-cha,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano also believed that it was not the appropriate time to discuss Cha-cha due to the important issues that should be given priorities like the people affected by the series of typhoons.

By Jelly F. Musico-PNA




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