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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

House to let Senate take Cha-cha lead

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Speaker: Senators can do alternative people’s initiative

Speaker Martin Romualdez said the House will follow the lead of the Senate in effecting Charter amendments through a constituent assembly.

In a letter to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, he said the House will also leave it up to the Senate to take the lead in pursuing an alternative people’s initiative as another mode to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Romualdez said majority of the House members support the Senate-backed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6 that seeks to amend restrictive economic provisions through a constituent assembly.

“We await the approval of the Senate RBH No. 6, and we commit to adopt this measure pertaining to the amendments of the economic provisions of the Constitution,” Romualdez said in the letter dated Jan. 25, 2024.

“We also pledge and commit to support an alternative people’s initiative led by the Senate with the proposition of amendments to the restrictive provisions of the Constitution,” he added.

The ongoing people’s initiative led by PIRMA proposes to amend the Charter with Congress voting “jointly.”

Zubiri, who received the letter yesterday, said the Senate will send its reply on Monday.

“As for his (Romualdez’s) suggestion of an alternative people’s initiative emanating from the Senate, there have been no discussions on this. We believe that any legitimate people’s initiative must be genuinely led by the people. The Senate still maintains that this people’s initiative, in its current form and how the signatures are being collected, is flawed and unconstitutional,” the Senate President said.

“We have warned about a possible constitutional crisis and tried to avoid it. But unfortunately, it seems that this is slowly happening.

We hope this crisis will be averted soon.”

“We intend to carefully study the options available to us to maintain the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution through a bicameral legislature. We remain vigilant for our country and for our people,” Zubiri added.

Senator Imee Marcos, who has accused Romualdez of being behind the people’s initiative push, appeared confused with his letter to Zubiri.

“Clearly, we don’t have the manpower or resources [to mount a people’s initiative],” she said.

“We didn’t expect this to be the ending. We have to study once again all the options, the proposals,” she added.

Romualdez has consistently denied accusations he had anything to do with PIRMA’s signature campaign.

RBH 6 is authored by Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and JuanEdgardo Angara. It has been referred to a special subcommittee chaired by Angara.

“We stand at a historic juncture, where cooperation and collective resolve are paramount. We will transcend past barriers to reform, charting a course towards a future where every Filipino can partake in the nation’s prosperity,” Romualdez said in his letter.

“In uniting under our values and principles, the leaders of the House of Representatives recommit ourselves to the service of our people and the democratic ideals we are sworn to uphold. Together, we are steadfast in our resolve to cultivate a nation where democracy flourishes, economies thrive and every Filipino is empowered to realize their fullest potential,” he added.

President Marcos on Tuesday said he supports efforts to amend restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution, saying the Charter was “not written for a globalized world.”

Mr. Marcos, in a GMA News TV “24 Oras” interview, said he even supports political amendments, but said these should not be tackled yet.

“We have to adjust so that we can increase the economic activity in the Philippines so we can attract more foreign investors,” he said.

The President, however, drew the line on which sectors or services should not be opened up to foreign investors.

He said he is not in favor of allowing foreigners to own land as this “will cause disruptions.”

“Corporations—maybe we can discuss this, except for the critical areas such as power generation, media, and all the strategic areas that we cannot allow to be influenced by a foreign entity, a corporation or another country. That’s what we have to decide—where we draw the line and how much,” the President said.

He said political amendments should not be discussed not so as “not to jeopardize the success” of efforts to amend the economic provisions.

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