charter change

Malacañang says charter change not a priority during pandemic

Sofia Tomacruz
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says the government remains focused on responding to the coronavirus outbreak

As lawmakers announced plans to discuss charter change, Malacañang on Monday, July 20, said this is not a priority of the Duterte administration during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stated the Palace’s position on Monday, after a House of Representatives panel said it would meet in a few weeks to to discuss constitutional amendments proposed by 1,489 mayors in the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP). 

Roque said the government remained focused on responding to the current outbreak. 

Ang totoo po ay nakatutok ang Presidente, ang buong national government sa pamamagitan gn IATF dito sa problema ng COVID-19. Hindi po prayoridad ang Charter Change,” Roque said in a press briefing. 

(To be honest, the President and the entire government though the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force] are focused on the problem of COVID-19. Charter Change is not a priority.)

Earlier on Monday morning, House committee on constitutional amendments chair Representative Rufus Rodriguez said that he would call for a meeting after Congress resumes its regular session on July 27 “to get the sense” from members regarding the LMP’s proposals. 

Amendments proposed by mayors so far center around lifting restrictions on foreign investments and institutionalizing the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court, which allowed a larger Internal Revenue Allotment share for local governments. 

If taken up in Congress, the discussion on the LMP’s proposals will be the latest move to revive Charter Change discussions in the House. 

The House committee on constitutional amendments reopened its Cha-Cha hearings in January to discuss the amendments proposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Federalism and Constitutional Reform

At the time, lawmakers fiercely objected to proposed amendments such as anti-dynasty provisions, regulation of campaign spending and contributions, and the creation of a Regional Development Authority. 

Separate efforts from the Department of the Interior and Local Government were also carried out in May as the agency launched an online signature campaign to gather support for revising the 1987 Constitution. 

Duterte, who has been pushing for federalism and charter change since the 2016 campaign, did not urge Congress to amend the 1987 Constitution during his 4th State of the Nation Address in 2019.

Despite this, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the administration would still pursue this as it remained a “priority” thrust of the government. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.