Cha-cha not among Senate priorities

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    BY RAYMOND AFRICA and WENDELL VIGILIA

    CHARTER change (Cha-cha) is not among the priorities of the Senate when senators go back to work following a month-long holiday break, Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said yesterday.

    Zubiri said: “Hindi pa namin pinag-uusapan ‘yan (We are not yet tackling Charter change).”

    The Senate and the House of Representatives resume sessions today after it went on break last December, the 2021 General Appropriations Act its last legislative accomplishment for 2020.

    Zubiri said he would seek guidance from Senate President Vicente Sotto III on how the Senate would deal with revived moves in the House of Representatives to amend the 1987 Constitution.

    There are no signs that congressmen are backing down on their renewed Charter change drive.

    Majority leader Martin Romualdez said the proposed changes to the “restrictive” economic provisions of the 34-year-old Charter will be prioritized along with other priority other measures aimed at pursuing economic reforms that would ensure a sustained campaign to put an end to the pandemic.

    Romualdez said the push for Cha-cha under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco would complement the Duterte administration’s initiatives to accelerate economic growth.

    “We will keep our dedication, commitment, passion and the flame burning in pursuing Charter change until we reap the real benefits of genuine constitutional reforms for our children and the succeeding generations,” he said in a statement. “We need to create opportunities and for strong economic growth to be felt also by ordinary people.”

    The House committee on constitutional amendments is discussing proposed Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, filed by Velasco, which seeks to liberalize the “restrictive” economic provisions in the Constitution which Velasco said “prevent us from becoming fully competitive with our Asian neighbors.”

    The Speaker is proposing to amend Sections 2, 3, 7, 10 and 11 of Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), Section 4 of Article XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports) and Section 11 of Article XVI (General Provisions) to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law.”

    The Constitution limits foreign ownership of land and businesses to only 40 percent, and reserves the other 60 percent to Filipino citizens or corporations.