Sat. Jan 16th, 2021

The House of Representatives can proceed with its discussions on Charter change (Cha-cha) without the blessing of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace respects the decision of the lower chamber to restart public hearings on Cha-cha.

It is not necessary for them to have the President’s blessing— that is really the duty of Congress. Only Congress can begin the process for charter change, not the President),” he said in a Palace press briefing in Filipino.

However, he also said Duterte and his administration will still prioritize efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country and implement its economic recovery plan.

We respect their decision, but for now our priority is Covid-19, especially talks about acquiring vaccines,” he added in Filipino.

Roque also dismissed anew rumors that the House’s cha-cha is a move to extend the terms of officials including that of Duterte.

Resumption of cha-cha talks developed after Speaker Lord Allan Velasco met with House leaders who previously chaired the constitutional amendments panel.

House committee on constitutional amendments chairperson Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the hearings will focus solely on economic provisions and not amendments on political provisions like term extension.

Garbin said his panel would resume deliberations on proposals to liberalize the Constitution’s economic provisions next Wednesday. SOVEREIGNPH

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