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Cha-Cha not in Senate priority measures

Hananeel Bordey

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Contrary to the legislative priorities of the House of Representatives, the Senate does not include charter change in the list of bills that they will prioritize after the resumption of sessions on Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Sunday provided a list of priority measures that the senators will act upon.

Asked why Cha-Cha is not included in the list, Zubiri said: “We are not talking about it yet.”

He said that it is best to ask Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who stated last week that he was not yet convinced that there is a need for Cha-Cha.

In a statement Sunday, Zubiri’s counterpart— House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez— reaffirmed the Lower Chamber’s commitment to work on charter change as pushed by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Romualdez reiterated amendments to the so-called restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution will boost the Philippine economy.

Like what Romualdez committed, Zubiri said the Senate will focus on the ratification of bicameral committee reports of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE), Coco Farmers Trust fund, and the bill on Confirmation of Imperfect Land Titles.

The Upper Chamber will also pass the amendments to Republic Act (RA) No. 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001 on third and final reading.

The following measures will be calendared for discussions in the Senate: amendments to Retail Trade Liberalization Act; bill increasing age of Statutory Rape; Amendments to Public services Act; Creation of the Department of OFWs; E-Governance Act; Military and Uniformed Personnel Services Separation, Retirement and Pension Act; Expanded Solo parents welfare Act; and Internet Transactions Act.

The Senate also appealed to the House of Representatives to work on 12 measures that have no counterparts in the Lower Chamber.

These measures include the bill establishing separate prison facilities for heinous crimes convict, lowering height requirement for uniformed personnel, a bill prohibiting child marriages; creation of National Transportation Safety Board, a bill increasing teaching supplies allowance for public school teachers, to name a few.

Last week, Sotto said Senate will only take up the matter after the House acted on the resolutions for the Constituent Assembly.

Sotto maintained that he doesn’t see any reason to amend the charter just to introduce the amendments on the so-called restrictive economic provisions.

“Offhand, I have yet to be convinced that we need a charter change. When you say charter change, you have to change the Constitution. You are changing the Constitution, not just charter amendments. So, right now, I am not convinced that we need a charter change or cha-cha,” he said.

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