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Angara: Senate Cha-cha hearings to focus on economy

Delon Porcalla, Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Angara: Senate Cha-cha hearings to focus on economy
Sen. Sonny Angara heads the constitutional amendments and revision of codes subcommittee.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines —  Senate hearings on Charter change are set for Monday, with discussions to focus on restrictive economic provisions affecting select industries, according to Sen. Sonny Angara, who stressed they would avoid tinkering with elected officials’ term limits.

Angara heads the constitutional amendments and revision of codes subcommittee.

The Senate’s economic Charter change resolution was assigned to Angara, a lawyer, and not to committee chairman Sen. Robinhood Padilla. The subcommittee report will still have to go through Padilla, however.

Angara said the hearing would tackle Senate Resolution of Both Houses 6 that he filed with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda.

In the resolution, the Senate proposes to amend Articles XII (National Patrimony and Economy), XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports) and XVI (General Provisions) of the Constitution and insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to liberalize public utilities, advertising and educational institutions through legislation.

“We will focus on the contents of the resolution so we can have a focused and limited discussion,” Angara said.

There will be “no discussion of political amendments,” he added, amid allegations that any attempt to amend the Charter would pave the way for politicians to lift term limits and extend their stay in power.

The Senate’s economic Charter change version seeks to counter the ongoing people’s initiative, which Angara said is being pushed by politicians to allow the House of Representatives to railroad Charter change.

Senators are opposing the people’s initiative push for Congress to convene as a constituent assembly or con-ass but voting jointly, a move that they said would dissolve the Senate’s 24 member-votes and give the lower House the advantage.

The Senate’s economic Cha-cha resolution was almost aborted after senators took issue with the House of Representatives’ perceived support for the people’s initiative, even after Speaker Martin Romualdez committed to support the Senate’s resolution and for the House to adopt it.

Meanwhile, House leaders have called on senators to give Charter amendments a chance even as they resented what they called the politicization of economic reforms as indicated in the Senate Resolution of Both Houses 6.

“What we see is the narrative against development and progress is consistent. So, they always want to put political color to the constitutional amendment that we are proposing, when in fact what is on the table are purely economic amendments,” Deputy Speaker David Suarez said.

Suares said the senators’ claim that the House is bent on abolishing the Senate is just a “figment of their imagination.”

“These were the same arguments they have always raised, like they will be abolished and all. Another is the insinuation that we will perpetuate ourselves in power, it’s really the same narrative thrown against the proposal to push for Charter amendments,” Suarez said.

At the same time, he underscored the timeline for constitutional amendments to which Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has agreed, but which is being stonewalled by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

 

 

 

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