Velasco: No time left for Cha-cha

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    IT is time for the Duterte administration to throw in the towel on its push for constitutional amendments with only less than two years left before the 2022 national elections.

    No less than Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco, himself, knows that there is no more time to push for the initiative, especially now that the country is battling the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

    “I would want to push for Charter change, but I think there is really no more time, especially (since) we’re focusing all our efforts, our responses to COVID,” Velasco told an online interview.

    Velasco, however, said he would pursue Charter change if President Duterte would want him to do so because “at the end of the day, I really feel that we have to review, amend our Charter.”

    “I’ll talk to the President first and if says that we have to do it, we’ll do it. But to me, personally, I feel that we have to focus first on our COVID-19 responses,” he said.
    Velasco said he would listen to the President “because he’s a lot wiser than me and I know that that would be for the betterment of the country.”

    The Speaker said that for one, the current three-year term for House members is “very short,” making it difficult for lawmakers to accomplish many legislative goals while preparing for the next elections.

    “So instead of really focusing on what a public official can give to the people, we’re always thinking, ‘What are we going to do in the elections?’” he said.

    Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House committee on constitutional amendments, has temporarily shelved the panel’s Charter change hearings this year to allow the House to focus on COVID response measures.

    The panel may decide to meet again by January of February next year to resume the deliberations but it will depend on the priorities of the new House leadership under Velasco.

    The chairman’s decision was made last May, in the wake of reports that local officials and other Cha-cha supporters identified with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have resumed their signature-gathering campaign to push for Cha-cha even while the country is battling COVID-19.

    Roriguez said the revived campaign is a waste of time, effort and money “because we will not act on Cha-cha while our people are suffering and are in danger of getting infected by the coronavirus.”