It’s Congress’ job to discuss Cha-cha, NCR mayors told

Malacañang on Thursday said it respects the remarks made by some Metro Manila mayors that local executives have “no time” to tackle Charter change (Cha-cha).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said that it is Congress’ job to tackle possible amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

“Well, we respect the views of these mayors of course, but we also have to respect na trabaho ng Kongreso na isulong yung mga bagay-bagay na ito. Wala po puwedeng manghimasok sa kapangyarihan ng Kongreso sa pagpo-propose ng amendments to the Constitution. Trabaho nila ‘yan (that it’s the job of the Congress to push for such legislation. Nobody can interfere in the power of the Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

On Tuesday, the House committee on constitutional amendments voted to adopt Resolution of Both Houses (RH) No. 2 where the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” would be inserted to several sections of the Constitution, which restrict foreign ownership of public utilities, educational institutions, media, and advertising.

The resolution, principally authored by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, particularly seeks to introduce five amendments to Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), one amendment to Article XIV (Education, Science, and Technology), and one amendment to Article XVI (General Provisions).

Velasco sought to liberalize the restrictive economic constitutional provisions to allow Congress to enact laws that will free up the economy to foreign investors and provide much-needed economic relief to Filipinos in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday backed Congress’ efforts to ease restrictive economic provisions but noted the ban on foreign ownership of land in the country should remain.

“Huwag natin pag-ariin ng lupa kasi hindi naman kailangan. Puwede mo pahabain ang lease, pero yung ownership huwag (Let’s not let foreigners own land. We can lease the land for a longer period, but not ownership),” Panelo said.

Economic managers have also expressed support for initiatives in the Congress to further open up the economy, whether through Cha-cha or the enactment of laws.

Last Wednesday, Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco said his city government is far too busy “worrying” about rising Covid-19 cases and helping those suffering from the pandemic’s economic impact.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said there are “a lot of provisions” in the charter that should be reviewed, but also acknowledged that “there’s an issue of suspicion” since 2022 elections are nearing.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government earlier said it garnered some 555,610 signatures and local government unit resolutions in support of lifting the restrictive economic provisions of the charter. 

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