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House leadership pursues Cha-cha
“It’s not really dead in the water. I have talked to Senate President Tito Sotto and right now we’re not discussing it yet because we still have a year to be able to tackle the whole Charter amendments,” Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said at a press briefing on Monday.
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House leadership pursues Cha-cha

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has vowed to pursue the proposed amendments to the restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution, dismissing claims by critics that the move is already dead in the water without the needed backing from the Senate.

“It’s not really dead in the water. I have talked to Senate President Tito Sotto and right now we’re not discussing it yet because we still have a year to be able to tackle the whole Charter amendments,” Velasco said at a press briefing on Monday.

He said Congress is not rushing the passage of Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 that he principally authored.

“It’s not being rushed. There is actually no need to rush it now because we still have a year to do it. We’ll just try to hear out all the members who have questions on Cha-cha so everyone will be given a chance to raise their points,” Velasco said.

He said they target to pass RBH 2 before sessions adjourn in May and not next month as earlier announced by constitutional commission committee chairman Alfredo Garbin Jr.

Velasco pointed out that the proposed economic Charter change is not diverting the attention of lawmakers from urgent measures to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“As you can see, the House has delivered a lot of COVID measures and we can prove that we can do everything simultaneously. There is no delay in the passage of these measures by the House. And to be honest, we really can multitask,” he said.

Velasco also dismissed public fears that the move could lead to amendments of political provisions in the Charter.

“I think the fear of many is that when we pursue Charter change, our elected leaders will take advantage and insert other amendments. But at the end of the day, what we are only looking at really is to change the Constitution to open our country to foreign investors,” the Speaker stressed.

Garbin believes that senators would support the measure once assured that only amendments to economic provisions would be pursued.

He added that Congress has until February next year to be able to submit the proposed amendments to the public for approval in a plebiscite preferably to be held simultaneously with the presidential elections.

Velasco reiterated the importance of amending the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.

Deputy Minority Leader Stella Quimbo called on fellow lawmakers to support the measure.

In her sponsorship speech on Monday, Quimbo emphasized that the 34-year-old Charter needs to be recalibrated.

Quimbo, a former UP economics professor, noted that even before the pandemic “we fell behind Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam in terms of attracting foreign direct investment inflows.”

LORD ALLAN VELASCO
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