House sticks to target approval for Cha-cha before Holy Week

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
House sticks to target approval for Cha-cha before Holy Week
Facade of the House of Representatives at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will stick to its timeline expediting the Charter change process even as President Marcos Jr. reportedly wants the plebiscite to be held during the 2025 elections.

Lawmakers said on Tuesday that the lower chamber is eyeing the final approval of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 7, which proposes economic amendments to 1987 Constitution, before at least the Holy Week break in March.

This is a timeframe much shorter than the plan of the Senate to approve its own Charter change proposal (RBH 6) before it adjourns for its sine die break in May — a timeline that Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri was based on Marcos’s instructions to synchronize the Charter change plebiscite with the 2025 elections.

The House is set to wrap up committee deliberations on RBH 7 by March 6, after which they may hold the second reading of the measure from March 11 to 13, Rep. Neptali Gonzales (Mandaluyong) said during the second meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

“Then hopefully … in compliance with our rules … after three days from distribution of copy.. it can be scheduled for third reading,” Gonzales said.

Pro-Chacha House members said in a press conference on Tuesday that Marcos’ instructions to senators are at least a “welcome development” as the Charter change process now has a final deadline.

Rep. Rodge Gutierrez (1-Rider Partylist) said that while the lower chamber welcomes the “working timeline” of the president, he hopes that the Senate would still prioritize deliberating on the proposed economic amendments.

“We would urge our colleague in the Senate to at least as priority… hopefully we don’t extend it all the way to sine die,” Gutierrez said. 

However, both Gutierrez and Rep. Margarita Nograles (PBA Partylist) said that Marcos’ instructions during closed-door meetings should not be disclosed to the public.

“It’s good that we do have this time frame although we have yet to hear what the president really has to say about this,” Nograles said.

“Because that is something that should follow the concept of, although we want to be transparent … what’s said in closed-door should be respected in terms of confidentiality,” Nograles said in a mix of English and Filipino.  

Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong (Lanao del Sur, 1st District) said that House members are expediting the passage of RBH 7 to insulate the proposed amendments to the Constitution from politics.

“It might be used as a campaign slogan,” Adiong said.

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