July 24, 2020 (6:30 PM)

3 min read


SELF-SERVING. Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez mentions the upcoming congregation of the House of Representatives for Charter Change, despite criticisms that amending the Constitution is a political maneuver to extend term limits. Photo taken from Rappler.com

Upon the request of 1,488 municipal mayors of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez said that he would meet the House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments to continue deliberations on proposed constitutional amendment within two weeks after the resumption of the regular session this July 27. 

Expressing the mayors’ concerns, LMP President and Ilocos Sur Mayor Chavit Singson highlighted the need to increase the internal revenue allotment of local government units and lift restrictions on foreign investment in Filipino-exclusive industries. 

However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stressed that charter change is not a priority amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Tingin ko, maiintindihan naman ng mga mayor na bagama’t tama iyong kanilang advocacy na palawakin ang IRA ng mga lokal na pamahalaan para mas mabilis din makabigay ng serbisyo sa kanilang mga kababayan, ang totoo po ay nakatutok po ngayon ang Presidente, ang buong national government sa pamamagitan ng IATF dito po sa problema ng Covid-19,” Roque said.

Political Science professor Neil Ryan Pancho emphasized that amending the constitution on the mayors’ request would be “self-serving,” especially amid the pandemic.

“You cannot do things like that in the middle of a pandemic because it gives an impression that the present congress is more into perpetuating their rule in power rather than arresting this number one problem that we have today,” Pancho said, emphasizing that the citizens should be the one pushing for the charter change instead of mayors.

In connection with the LMP’s request to increase the local government unit’s internal revenue allotment, Pancho suggested amending the local government code.

“They can go back to the local government code, and they can make specific provisions, aspects of local revenues that they are interested,” he said, stressing that amending the charter requires opening every part of the constitution.

Meanwhile, he was also sure that the administration would not push through with the request of LMP.

“Kampante ako na hindi to mangyayari kasi the senate is one body that needs to be part of the deliberation process and most of the senators to some extent are critical of the shift to federalism.

“Dapat 2016, they should have amended it already. The administration could have used their popularity way back then. Any changes in the constitution toward the end of the term will always raise a suspicion that you are only interested in going beyond your term,” he said.

Before the pandemic, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments has already started deliberating 12 bills and resolutions to amend the constitution. 

It can be remembered that one of the pillars of Duterte’s campaign was the shift to federalism. 

The administration created a Department of Interior and Local Government Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism (IATF) to raise awareness on federalism, “integrating, harmonizing, and coordinating ongoing efforts towards federalism and constitutional reform.”

However, IATF found the House of Representatives committee’s proposed charter lacking provisions on anti-turncoatism, anti-political dynasty, and transparency on campaign finances.

The IATF proposed to allow LGUs to have a tax share according to respective population, resources, land area, and organizational capacities, and mandate them to contribute at least five percent of national tax shares to regional development councils. It also proposed to mandate the President to transfer central authority to local government.

With this, the House committee decided to postpone voting on the proposal of the IATF for further deliberations.

End the silence of the gagged!

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