Timing is key: Villafuerte explains why Cha-cha talks are always doomed after midterm polls

Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte has explained why the House of Representatives is pursuing Charter Change or Cha-cha this early in the 19th Congress.

Camarines Sur 2nd district Rep. LRay Villafuerte (Facebook)

Speaking in a recent radio interview, the pro-administration lawmaker reasoned that discussing Cha-cha measures inevitably become the subject of suspicion if they are begun after the midterm elections.

The midterm elections represent the halfway point of any given Philippine president's term.

Using President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s six-year term as an example, his Palace tenure will cover the 19th and 20th Congresses. The former will last from 2022 to 2025, while the latter will run from 2025 to 2028.

This places the midterm polls in 2025, particularly in May which is election month in the Philippines.

“Talagang kailangan naman talaga ng Constitutional change dahil panahon pa ni President FVR (Fidel V. Ramos), President GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Arroyo), kahit si President Duterte gustong gawin, kaya lang hindi natutuloy 'to dahil sa timing. Pag lumampas na kasi ng midterm, sususpetyahan na po ng extension (We really need Constitutional change and this was pursued during the terms of President FVR, President GMA, and even President Duterte wanted to do it, but the timing was wrong. Once we move past the midterm, there's come the suspicion that we're only after the extension of terms of elective officials),” Villafuerte said.

Efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution have been a recurring exercise in the House of Representatives.

“May mga natatakot pero palagay ko karamihan gusto na rin ng —unang-una kasi kami focused lang talaga economic provisions (There are those afraid about a suspected political agenda but I think most of us want Change change--first of all, our focus will only be on the economic provisions),” he said.

“Alam namin yung sentimyento eh, kasi oras pag-usapan ang , ‘Uy, i-extend niyo yung sarili niyo (We know what the sentiments are, that once we talk about political changes, 'Oh, you're going to extend your terms)," noted the Commission on Appointments (CA) majority leader.

Villafuerte said the House members have agreed to only look at possible revisions to the Charter's "restrictive" economic provisions.





“Economic provisions po, malinaw on foreign ownership...Ang Pilipinas ang pinaka-restrictive sa foreign ownership. Marami pong gustong mag negosyo dito, agriculture, public utilities, kaya lang pinagbabawal po yan (Only the economic provisions, it's clear on foreign ownership...the Philippines is the most restrictive when it comes to foreign ownership. A lot of people want to do business here on agriculture and public utilities, but that's prohibited)," he explained.

Referring to Cha-cha, he said: “Pag pinalipas pa natin 'to ng midterm (polls), di matutuloy (If we wait after the midterm polls, it won't push through)."