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Congress sets aside cha-cha

  • Written by Jester P. Manalastas
  • Published in Nation
  • Read: 243

LEADERS of the Senate and House of Representatives yesterday agreed to delay debates on Charter change (Cha-cha) through Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) until January next year.

This is to give way to the deliberations on the proposed 2017 national budget that may start next week in the lower chamber.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Koko Pimentel presided over a closed-door meeting in Mandaluyong to discuss details and procedures to be undertaken in amending the 1987 Constitution.

President Rodrigo Duterte wants a change in the form of government from unitary to federal.

In an interview, Alvarez said the solons want to focus first on the national budget and then dedicate all their time starting January next year to Cha-cha.

“Between now and the end of November, uunahin namin ang deliberation of budget after that, by January both houses puwede na namin talakayin ang revision ng Constitution,” Alvarez said.
    
Last week, Alvarez proposed to President Duterte the creation of a 20-man Constitutional Commission that will separately draft amendments while Congress is pre-occupied with budget hearings.
    
However, Alvarez clarified that so far nothing has been decided on the Cha-cha procedure.
    
One of the issues is how the voting will take place, as the two Houses of Congress have different views on either joint or separate voting.
    
While the House complied to the wish of President Duterte to convene into Con-Ass, the Senate is pushing for Constitutional Convention (Con-Con).
    
Alvarez admitted that the issue on voting jointly or separately in a Con-Ass will be a long and difficult debate.