âCha-cha effort dead in the waterâ
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, announced yesterday he has “doused cold water on moves by Charter change advocates to push for Cha-cha amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Gerry Lee Gorit
‘Cha-cha effort dead in the water’
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Nearly two years before President Duterte steps down, efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution and push for a federal system of government may now be dead in the water.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, announced yesterday he has “doused cold water on moves by Charter change advocates to push for Cha-cha amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“I am inclined to recommend to the Speaker that we shelve Cha-cha indefinitely so we can focus on measures to fight this pandemic, help our affected people and prepare the nation for post-lockdown and post-coronavirus disease, or the ‘new normal’ life,” he said.

The House leader also said he has “no doubt” that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano would favor his recommendation “since he has repeatedly declared that he wants us to work on COVID-19-related measures without any divisive issue distracting us.”

In the meantime, his committee is “suspending consideration of any Cha-cha proposal.”

Rodriguez made the statement in the wake of reports that local officials and supporters identified with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have resumed their signature-gathering campaign to push for Cha-cha despite the global outbreak.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, who is a member of the Inter-Agency Task Force fighting the pandemic, has reportedly distanced himself from efforts to amend the Constitution.

“This is not the time for the DILG and its allies to re-launch their signature drive and renew their push for Cha-cha. They should postpone it until this health crisis is over,” Rodriguez insisted.

In a statement, the senior Mindanao legislator 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.”

“Cha-cha can wait. We will first have to attend to measures that will save lives and the livelihood of our people,” he said.

He pointed out that if the House is not disposed to act on Cha-cha at this time, more so is the Senate, which is opposed to Cha-cha.

“So my message to Cha-cha advocates and their DILG patrons is: stop it, it won’t fly while there is a pandemic,” he added.

1987 CONSTITUTION RUFUS RODRIGUEZ
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