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Cha-cha hangs in the Senate

Photo: @escuderochiz IG
Macon Ramos-Araneta

Escudero to consult next move with majority

Efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution appear to be facing an even greater hurdle at the Upper House with Senate President Francis Escudero at the helm.

Escudero, who replaced ousted Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri Monday, said all hearings on Charter amendments are canceled as of now.

“We will not hold any such hearing – outside of Metro Manila or even inside the Senate. We will formally make our decision as a group and as a Senate with respect to this,” he said.

While Escudero wouldn’t use Zubiri’s term “dead” to describe Cha-cha’s fate, he said his position against the push to ease restrictive economic provisions has not changed.

“I have my own position. We will discuss it with the majority bloc and I have no reason to change my position,” he said.

The Senate constitutional amendments subcommittee was scheduled to have consultative hearings in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro today (Thursday) and Friday.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, who has been presiding over the Cha-Cha hearings as chairperson of the subcommittee, also resigned from his post Monday after Zubiri’s ouster.

“Goodbye Cha-cha. It is all cancelled. Senate President Escudero is anti-cha-cha,” said Zubiri in a press conference Monday.

“As far as we are concerned, Cha-cha is dead,” he added.

Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 is the Senate version of the economic Charter change proposals. The House of Representatives approved in March its own version – RBH No. 7.

The proposed House and Senate changes are on the grant of legislative franchises to and ownership (60-40) of public utilities in Article XII, the administration and control of basic educational facilities in Article XIV and ownership of advertising firms (70-30) in Article XVI.

Meanwhile, the House leadership said it is looking forward to a “more harmonious” working relationship with the Senate under the stewardship of Escudero.

In a press conference on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe emphasized the importance of aligning legislative priorities to fulfill the commitments outlined in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

“We look forward to the relationship of the House and the Senate under the leadership of Senate President Chiz Escudero and Speaker Martin Romualdez that I think will be more harmonious. We can work closely together and I think the senators are also very eager to finish the other priority measures agreed upon in the LEDAC,” Dalipe said.

“I am very optimistic that with this new leadership in the Senate, Senate President Chiz will be unifying. I am optimistic that he will also push for economic reforms needed in the Constitution,” he said.

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