Zubiri puzzled by rushed ‘cha-cha’ nod

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Wednesday said the urgency of his counterparts in the House of Representatives to act on proposals to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution puzzles him.

In a television interview, Zubiri reiterated the Senate’s position on the proposal, stressing for the nth time that amending the charter was not a priority of the upper chamber.

“Sometimes, I get confused. I don’t know what requires urgent attention — the priority measures of the LEDAC, the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, which is our group made up of the House, Senate and the Executive which discusses the priority measures needed for our country, and charter change is not there,” he said.

“I don’t understand why our dear colleagues in the House would like to rush this when, in all honesty, we passed the economic measures in the 18th Congress,” he added.

He made the statement when sought his reaction to Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez’s call on the Senate to act on the lower house’s plan to amend the Constitution.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved on the third and final reading House Bill 7352, which calls for a constitutional convention or con-con to amend the Constitution.

‘Not enough votes to dance’
At the moment, Zubiri said, the number of senators in favor of Charter change or cha-cha was not enough.

“We need 18 votes to dance the cha-cha. I don’t think we have 18 votes. We cannot dance because we do not have the numbers,” he said.

“So for us, it’s moot and academic,” he added.

He stressed that amending the “restrictive economic provisions” of the Constitution was not the problem but promoting the ease of doing business.

“You know what is the number-one problem? The ease of doing business, my other law. It is not being implemented, it’s a beautiful law. It’s perfect but, unfortunately, it isn’t being implemented on the local level,” he said.

“(Businessmen) are still being harassed by our LGUs. It takes them a month to get their permits instead of three days or a maximum of seven working days,” he added.

‘No dissolution of Senate under my watch’
Zubiri asserted that he will not allow the dissolution of the Senate, which could happen when the two chambers convene for cha-cha.

“There is a possibility the Senate could be dissolved. Not on my watch, I mean, that’s why there were threats against me, but it’s fine,” he said.

“I’m a constitutionalist. I believe in the institution. I believe that the Senate as an institution is needed for checks and balances,” he added.

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