MANILA—Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Tuesday said the chamber will continue its hearings on charter change without rushing the legislation of the proposed shift to federalism.
The decision was arrived at during the senators’ caucus Tuesday afternoon.
Zubiri said minority bloc senators are solidly pushing its opposing stand on “Cha-cha” and federalism, which some majority bloc members also share.
“Hindi po namin mamadaliin. Pero walang utos na madaliin ito, basta continue ’yung work of the committee ni Senator Kiko (Pangilinan). It’s still going to be a long debate in the committee level and the plenary when we discuss charter change,” Zubiri told reporters.
“Walang papayag sa amin na papayag na magkaroon ng no-el (no election).”
The Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, chaired by Pangilinan, on Tuesday night announced its deferment of the hearing.
"Senators need more time to study the draft constitution, which was officially turned over to us only last week," Pangilinan said.
"The responsible and appropriate response is not to rush charter change."
In a separate statement, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said that a majority of the senators is against charter change or federalism.
“The consensus is for the committee to continue its hearings on the matter. My reading is that a great majority is against it. Federalism will add to the bureaucracy, red tape, more taxes, greater tension in government, will promote (dynasties), (be) bad for (the) economy, credit downgrade, etc.," he said.
"Better to amend the local government code, implement Supreme Court decision on (Internal Revenue Allotment) and focus on creating jobs and a lower inflation rate."
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said the chamber has allowed the committee to "finish its hearings, and submit its report to the Senate. The Senate will debate and vote on the committee's report”.
Zubiri said the main issue to them is how the voting will be done.
“Ayaw ma-trap ng Senado sa isang constituent assembly ng walang clear guideline on constituent assembly,” he said.
Senate caucus spent discussing proposed P3.757-T budget for 2019
Zubiri, meanwhile, said the chamber mostly discussed the proposed P3.757 trillion budget for 2019 during the Senate caucus.
He said they are concerned with the limited time given to them to pass the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act, which is only about six months.
Zubiri said he believes the bulk of their time will only be consumed in hearing the budget, making it “impossible” for them to also hear the charter change proposals.
Another issue they discussed is the “legislative agenda” of the president, which includes the National Land Use Act, TRAIN 2, and the Universal Health Care Bill, among others.