MANILA – House committee on constitutional amendments chairman Rufus Rodriguez on Thursday said his panel will recommend that the Charter change (Cha-cha) proposals be shelved “indefinitely” as the country continues to battle the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Rodriguez, representative of Cagayan de Oro City, said the House of Representatives should instead prioritize working on Covid-19 related measures.
“I am inclined to recommend to the Speaker (Alan Peter Cayetano) that we shelve Cha-cha indefinitely so we can focus on measures to fight this pandemic, help our affected people and prepare the nation for post-lockdown and post-coronavirus disease, or the new-normal life,” Rodriguez said.
He said his committee has already suspended its consideration of any Cha-cha proposal.
Rodriguez made the statement amid reported attempts to revive the push for Cha-cha through a signature-gathering campaign led by local officials and other Cha-cha supporters.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año dismissed the reports as fake news, saying he never ordered anyone to do such a thing, especially amid a prevailing health crisis.
“This is not the time for the DILG and its allies to relaunch their signature drive and renew their push for Cha-cha. They should postpone it until this health crisis is over,” Rodriguez said. “Cha-cha can wait. We will first have to attend to measures that will save lives and the livelihood of our people.”
He said both chambers of Congress are indisposed to act on Cha-cha at this time.
According to reports, DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya, in a memorandum dated Jan. 28, said the collected signatures would be presented to Congress to show the support for constitutional reform.
Another memo, dated March 27, extended the deadline for submission of the signatures from March 31 to April 30 but also asked directors to raise the number to at least 100,000 by May 29 to get two million signatures. (ia/PNA)