• House rules out Cha-Cha

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    Charter Change (Cha-Cha) is dead in the House of Representatives, a House leader announced Tuesday.

    House Deputy Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd made the pronouncement alongside his disclosure of the priority measures of the 16th Congress at least until March—a list that does not include Charter Change and the Freedom of Information bill which passage into law was a Presidential campaign promise of then Sen. Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2010.

    In the list were: Amendments of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter, Rationalizing Fiscal Incentives System, Anti-Trust Law, Protection of Whistleblowers, Amendments to the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act, Institutionalizing Ladderized Education Program, Establishing a National Student Loan Program, National Land Use bill and Defining Forest Boundaries.

    “Cha-Cha? Wala na iyon (It’s over). It is very difficult at this point. Although I find the initiatives amending the economic provisions of the Constitution very laudable, we should have done it during the early point of the Aquino administration so that it won’t be suspected of ill motives. Besides, the President is adamant that he does not want Charter Change,” Gonzales said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum.

    The proposed amendments on the economic provisions of the country’s 1987 charter are anchored on lifting the restriction on foreigners owning businesses, land and public utilities in the country since foreigners are only allowed to own 40 percent. The remaining 60 percent should be owned by the Filipinos.

    Advocates of Cha-Cha see the move increasing business investments in the country, thus spurring job creation.

    Gonzales, however, underscored that the scare tactics that Cha-Cha will be used for term extension for elected officials, including the President, always prevail.

    “What makes Cha-Cha hard is the scare tactics employed on the public…that amending the economic provision is just a camouflage in amending the political framework. Pushing for Cha-Cha gets even more difficult as the term of the President nears its end,” Gonzales stressed.

    Under the existing Charter, the tenures of President, Vice President and the Senators is good for six years. As for the rest of the elective positions, the officials’ term is only three years.

    “If the President changes his mind now, it would not look good.

    Cha-Cha is a source of intrigues,” Gonzales added. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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