Speaker: House to push for Cha-cha next year

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Speaker: House to push for Cha-cha next year
This photo shows House Speaker Martin Romualdez at the 33rd Biennial Convention of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. in Manila Hotel, March 24, 2023.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers will make another pitch for constitutional amendments next year, focusing on economic provisions deemed “very prohibitive,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said yesterday.

“I believe 2024 will allow us again to revisit the whole issue of the Constitution because I think it’s timely that we revisit,s and I’d say we’d like to focus very much on the economic provisions,” Romualdez told reporters at a Christmas luncheon he hosted.

“We will be studying this during our Christmas break. And perhaps there might be some initiatives even during the break that would prepare us for the ensuing year, and perhaps what would be our legacy in the 19th Congress (2022-2025),” the Speaker said.

Congress goes on Christmas break on Friday. The renewed Charter change (Cha-cha) initiative being eyed by Romualdez will come a year before the mid-term elections.

The leader of the 310-member House of Representatives explained that 2024 would be a good time to review the 1987 Constitution since the chamber has already passed all priority measures outlined by President Marcos in his July 2022 State of the Nation Address and endorsed by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

With the development, the chamber’s focus would now be on “reviewing and revisiting” the Constitution to “make it more attuned, sensitive and responsive to the times,” Romualdez said.

On Monday, during an economic briefing in the Visayas, Romualdez said their preferred mode of amending the Constitution is through people’s initiative wherein it would be decided whether the Senate and the House should vote as one or separately.

“We will highly recommend that we embark on the people’s initiative to cure this impasse, so to speak, on how we vote,” he told delegates to the Philippine Economic Briefing held at the Marriott hotel in Iloilo City.

“I hope that we can undertake this ASAP so we could have some clarity on the procedures. So we would like to amend the Constitution vis-à-vis: How we procedurally amend the same and that’s either we vote jointly or separately,” Romualdez, a lawyer by profession, explained.

“We’d like to have that resolved by and through a people’s initiative,” the Leyte congressman added, noting the impasse should be resolved, specifically “addressing the procedural gap or question as to how we amend the Constitution.”

The House leader also mentioned constituent assembly as another mode of making changes in the Constitution.

“We want to do this because we really want to address the economy. We want to lift the restrictive provisions in our Constitution, vis-a-vis the economy. We feel that the Constitution should be prospective and not reactionary,” Romualdez stressed.

“Right now. It is very prohibitive, the most prohibitive in the region,” he said added.

“We would like to lift these restrictions…just like other nations do. So, this is what we will be embarking on in the ensuing months. And we will be working hand in hand with economic managers to see what are the priorities and what we should take up first,” he pointed out.

“These are all being undertaken in pursuit of the economic managers’ thrust to transform the economy under the administration of President Marcos. It’s been three and a half decades. We feel that it’s timely and that we would like to get your support as well in this matter,” he maintained.

The Speaker first raised the idea of amending the 1987 Constitution last September before CEOs gathered at an event organized by the Philippine Constitution Association where he sits as president.

At a Manila Overseas Press Club meeting attended mostly by business leaders, Romualdez declared that the 1987 Constitution is no longer attuned to the digital times.

“In summary, our Constitution, as noble and well-intentioned as it is, has elements that are no longer adaptive to our needs,” the Speaker said.

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