“What do they think about divorce, about the death penalty, about Cha-cha and federalism? These are the questions we will ask them. We will move faster on those that there is consensus on. We will not stop committee hearings, but we will act with caution on those on which there is no consensus. We can all come together but we’re not stopping any of the committees from discussing these bills,” Cayetano stressed.
DFA/MJ Roldan, File
House to tackle divorce bill, death penalty
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano intends to get a consensus of the members of the House of Representatives on Charter change (Cha-cha), the divorce bill and re-imposition of the death penalty to help guide the leadership on what to do.

He said yesterday the House would be conducting a survey during the remainder of the current congressional recess up to the first week of November to seek the opinions of its members on the three controversial issues.

“What do they think about divorce, about the death penalty, about Cha-cha and federalism? These are the questions we will ask them. We will move faster on those that there is consensus on. We will not stop committee hearings, but we will act with caution on those on which there is no consensus. We can all come together but we’re not stopping any of the committees from discussing these bills,” Cayetano stressed.

He pointed out that most House members have divergent views on divorce and the proposed return of capital punishment.

“Definitely for impossible marriages, like in the case of a battered or psychologically incapacitated spouse, we have to find a solution. Some believe that divorce is the solution. Others like me believe that a democratic and accessible annulment of marriage, instead of divorce, is the solution,” Cayetano said.

But even given a consensus, he stressed that it is still important to jibe this with the priorities of President Duterte.

“We can act depending on our collective conscience, but we should balance that with the administration’s priorities. If there is no conflict, then we will have no problem,” he pointed out.

Of the three controversial legislative proposals Cayetano mentioned, only Cha-cha is in the advanced stage of committee consideration.

The committee on constitutional amendments, chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, has been conducting hearings on resolutions to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution to relax restrictions on foreign ownership of land and businesses, and on the term of office of lawmakers and local officials.

He revealed that after his initial consultations there was “consensus among our resource persons and our colleagues in the House to push for economic Cha-cha.”

“It was felt that allowing more foreign equity participation could lead to more investments, and more investments would mean more income and jobs for our people,” Rodriguez said.

Various business groups, including the Joint Foreign Chambers, Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines, have supported the proposed relaxation or lifting of foreign ownership limitations.

Rodriguez said there was also consensus on the proposal to lengthen the term of office for House members and local officials from the present three years to either four or five years.

“The prevailing sentiment was that the three-year tenure is too short for these officials to undertake meaningful reforms and projects in their districts or local government units,” he said, adding that the present three-terms limit would be retained.

The official also said that if the House eventually recommends a five-year tenure for congressmen and local officials, senators would also have a term of office of five years instead of six years.

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