MANILA – Malacañang on Monday rejected a lawmaker’s claims that President Rodrigo Duterte is behind the new push for amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
In a virtual Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte is prioritizing the fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) above anything else.
“Hindi po prayoridad ang Charter change (Charter change is not a priority),” Roque in a virtual Palace briefing.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Saturday chided the Duterte administration’s “obsession” for allegedly pursuing Charter change while the country continues to grapple with the health crisis.
Zarate, also House Deputy Minority Leader, made this accusation although it was the League of Municipalities of the Philippines headed by Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit’ Singson, who had launched a signature campaign proposing Charter revision.
The organization of municipal mayors is independent from the national government.
Roque said that based on the President’s previous public addresses, Duterte did not mention Charter change even once.
“Alam ninyo po, linggu-linggo ay nakikipag-usap naman po ang Pangulo sa ating taumbayan at hindi po lumulutang ang Charter change bilang isang prayoridad (You know, the President addresses the public weekly and Charter change was never mentioned as a priority),” Roque said.
Roque said he was “personally sympathetic” to the League of Municipalities.
“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 (I think the mayors understand that even if their advocacy to expand the IRA of local governments is correct to speed up the giving of services to their constituents, the truth is the President, the national government through the IATF, is focused on the problems related to Covid-19),” he said.
On Friday, Singson said during the Laging Handa public briefing that over 1,400 municipal mayors are pushing for the amendment of two provisions of the Constitution.
According to Singson, one of the proposed amendments is the lifting of restrictions on foreign investments in industries currently limited to ownership by Filipinos.
He said local executives also want to institutionalize the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court which seeks to ensure that the regions will have a continuous fair share in the taxes collected by the national government.
The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments already started deliberations on 12 bills and resolution proposing to amend the 1987 Constitution.
Deliberations are expected to resume when Congress reopens on July 27. (PNA)