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Congressman pushes ‘Cha-cha’

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PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

CONGRESS should remain resolute in pursuing amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution despite public disapproval, a congressman said on Thursday.

In a statement sent to the press, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez said the House of Representatives and the Senate should continue to pursue amending the economic provisions of the Charter as it would improve the country’s business climate.

“The national leadership… believes that changing the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution would benefit the country as it would result in more foreign investments coming in,” he said.

A Pulse Asia Research, Inc. poll result last month said seven of 10 Filipinos are against constitutional amendments, signaling unfavorable public sentiment for Charter change, loosely referred to as “Cha-cha.”

“The right decisions are not always popular,” he said, referring to poll results.

He said the testimony of resource persons showing support for economic Charter change during House committee deliberations is a testament to the need to open the limiting economic provisions of the Constitution.

“We are falling behind in terms of FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments) in ASEAN,” Mr. Rodriguez, who also chairs the House Committee of Constitutional Amendments, said in mixed English and Filipino.

POLITICAL AMENDMENTS URGEDEarlier this week, an adviser to President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. sent the House of Representatives a letter recommending the addition of political amendments to the Constitution.

In the letter sent on Wednesday, Presidential Adviser for Poverty Alleviation Lorenzo “Larry” G. Gadon called on legislators to consider extending the term limits of elected local officials to from three years to six years; increasing the number of seats at the Senate from 24 to 48; and transitioning the country into a Parliamentary system of government.

Asked for a comment, Party-list Rep. France L. Castro said Mr. Gadon’s recommendation revealed Mr. Marcos’ underlying intent in amending the Constitution.

“As a member of the Marcos administration, Larry Gadon’s (recommendation) revealed President Marcos’ desire to amend the political provisions of the Constitution,” she said in Filipino through a Viber message.

Ateneo Policy Center Senior Research Fellow Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco told BusinessWorld in a Facebook Messenger chat that Mr. Gadon’s sudden introduction of political amendments may lead the people to reject Charter change entirely.

“These are the proposals that trigger the people’s distrust because these proposals are arguably designed to benefit only those already in power,” he said.

At present, the measure proposing Charter amendments would only change certain economic provisions, Mr. Rodriguez said in his statement.

“We are limiting the proposed changes only to three areas,” he said. “There is no proposal to extend the term of any elective official, there is no political amendment.” — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

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