By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez expressed optimism Wednesday that the House leadership will soon include Charter Change in its top priority list.
The chairman of House Committee on Constitutional Amendments expressed gratitude to House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez for declaring that amending the 29-year old 1987 Constitution is “a priority, but not a top priority.”
“I am thankful that Majority Leader Martin Romualdez has said that Cha-cha is a priority, although not the top priority. But, this is the just beginning of our session as we go along and other congressmen will see the wisdom of changes, the amendments that we will be proposing. I believe there will be collective support that it (Cha-Cha) will become later a top priority,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview.
He assured that his panel would “work hard and overtime” to shepherd the approval of the Cha-cha measures.
Romualdez told reporters on Tuesday that amending the Constitution “may be a priority, but not a top priority at this point.”
He said initial steps should be taken to ensure that measures seeking to amend the Constitution would prosper.
Rodriguez said his panel is eyeing to start by last week of August its marathon hearings on resolutions proposing to amend certain provisions of the 1987 Constitution that would pave the way for a federal form of government.
He said his panel will meet twice monthly— second and fourth week of the month– to fasttrack the approval of the Cha-cha measures.
Rodriguez had filed House Concurrent Resolution No. 01, which proposes amendments to certain provisions on Articles VI, V, XII, XIV and XVI of the 1987 Constitution, and Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, which seeks to constitute the Senate and the House of Representatives into a Constituent Assembly to propose revisions of the 1987 Constitution by adopting a federal form of government.
Under HCR No. 1, Rodriguez proposed the election of 24 senators with three representing each of the nine regions of the country. The proposed nine regions include National Capital Region, Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
The concurrent resolution sets at four years the term of office of senators and prohibits them to serve more than three consecutive terms.
The members of the House of Representatives shall likewise have a four-year tour of duty, and limited to three consecutive turns. Barangay officials serve under the same terms.
The proposal authorizes Congress to provide for the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources.
It seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to several sections of the Constitution which restrict foreign ownership of land, natural resources, public utilities, media, and advertising.
Rodriguez said it is about time to give in to long over-due clamor to revisit the antiquated provisions of the Constitution and “make it more attuned and responsive to the demands of present conditions.”
“Recent events show that it is imperative that reforms be introduced in the present Constitution for it to be responsive to the exigencies of the times, including the need to provide a long-term solution to the decades-old conflict in Mindanao and spurt economic regional development in the countryside and provide impetus to much-needed socio-economic and political reforms,” he said.