MANILA – The House of Representatives does not need the blessing of President Rodrigo Duterte to resume discussions on Charter change (Cha-cha), Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace respects the decision of the lower chamber to restart public hearings on cha-cha.
“Hindi naman kinakailangang bigyan ng basbas ng Presidente iyan—iyan naman po’y katungkulan talaga ng Kongreso. Tanging Kongreso lang po ang pupuwedeng magsimula ng proseso para sa Charter change, hindi po ang Presidente (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.
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.
“Nirirespeto po natin iyan at sa ngayon po ang number one priority natin ang Covid-19 lalung-lalo na ang usaping vaccine (We respect their decision, but for now our priority is Covid-19, especially talks about acquiring vaccines),” he added.
Roque also dismissed anew rumors that the House’s cha-cha is a move to extend the terms of officials including that of Duterte.
“Tsismis lang po iyan (Those are just rumors). The President has made it clear, wala po siyang kahit anong kagustuhan na manatili ng isang minuto man lang (he has no any desire to stay even one minute longer) beyond his term of office on June 30, 2022,” he said.
On Wednesday, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the government is targeting to secure at least 148 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the country in 2021.
However, he said the acquisition will still be dependent on the global supply since rich nations have already secured 80 percent of the vaccines worldwide
“Wala pong ibang top priority ang Pangulo kung hindi matapos po itong pandemyang ito sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng bakuna sa ating mga kababayan (The President does not have any other priority except to end this pandemic by providing vaccines to our citizens),” Roque said.
The government is currently in “advanced stages of negotiations” with pharmaceutical companies Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Sinovac and Gamaleya.
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. via (PNA)