Palace official: No chacha problem with ‘friendly’ Congress
MANILA, Philippines – A Palace official said on Saturday, August 15, that Malacañang is unlikely to encounter any difficulty in seeing through Charter change in Congress – should President Benigno Aquino III decide to pursue it.
Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) chief Manuel Mamba made the statement in an interview on state-run Radyo ng Bayan, but also stressed that the President has yet to give him any “marching orders” on the matter.
Asked if the administration has enough time to insert charter change in the legislative agenda and see it through before 2016, Mamba said: “Congress is very friendly [to the administration] – the leadership of both Houses. And, of course, the President enjoys a very good relationship [with them]. I don’t find any problem if and when this is pushed, but this is just my opinion.”
He quickly clarified that he had “no inkling” about any administration bid to pursue it. “At this point in time, I did not get any inkling. At this point in time, I didn’t get any marching order on pushing the chacha."
No chacha in common legislative agenda
He said the common legislative agenda of Malacañang and Congress leaders does not include charter change, though this has always been priority measures in the House and the Senate but limited to amendments in the economic provisions of the Constitution.
In an excerpt of his interview on TV5 on Wednesday night, the President expressed openness to constitutional amendments that would clip the powers of the judiciary and lift term limits to allow him a second term.
When asked, Mamba said Aquino enjoys popular support at the grassroots level because of the administration’s programs such as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), infrastructure development, and other increased social services especially in the provinces.
“We have a very popular president and the popularity extends even in the farthest barangays because of the CCT, because of PhilHealth,” Mamba said, responding to questions.
In a separate interview on the same station, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte appealed to critics to withhold judgement until they have seen Aquino's entire TV5 interview on Sunday so they would know the full context of his announcement.
‘Productive’ legislative year ahead
Mamba also said among the priority bills of the administration is the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which it wants passed as soon as possible. On August 15, the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) reached a consensus on the final version of the draft law which they will submit to the President for approval.
Mamba also expects a “productive legislative year” ahead compared to the previous year when lawmakers were dragged down by the multimillion pork barrel scam that eroded public trust and confidence in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“I think we have ample time for all of this [priority legislation] because we anticipate that this will be a more productive year, legislative year for the 16th Congress because our first legislative year had a lot of controversies. I think work would be easier now and we practically cannot count any real opposition in both Houses. So I think it’s much, much easier to do all these things now,” he said.
In a statement on Friday, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate would “work double time” so that the BBL would be passed into law by the first quarter of 2015. – Rappler.com
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