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House to postpone plenary deliberations on Cha-cha —Rodriguez

The House of Representatives will be postponing its expected plenary deliberations on the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution next month to allow time to consider the proposals of an interagency body on constitutional reforms.

House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chair Rufus Rodriguez made the statement Tuesday as the Department of the Interior and Local Government - Interagency Task Force on Federalism and Constitutional Reform briefed lawmakers and their staff on their proposed changes to the Charter.

The House panel last year approved during a closed-door session a resolution of both houses on Charter change which introduced amendments such as allowing longer terms for lawmakers, increasing the number of senators to three for each of nine regions, providing for the election of the president and vice president in tandem, among others.

But with the presentation of the proposals of the interagency body, Rodriguez said they would have to delay the scheduled plenary deliberations of his panel's proposals in February and go back to their discussions in the committee.

"We are going back to hear their proposals. Because this is now the DILG. And not only that, the Interagency for Constitutional Reforms is composed of 11 departments. This is something that we will always consider, considering that it involves the executive department, and we will consider their proposal," he said.

"So we will therefore, not proceed yet with the plenary discussions on the proposed amendments, bring back our committee amendments that we have proposed and approved in the committee, and we are going to reopen so that we can hear the proposals of the members of Congress," Rodriguez added.

Among the proposals of the interagency body is to include in the Constitution the ruling of the Supreme Court on Mandanas v. Ochoa which states that "the share from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the local government units (LGUs) does not exclude other national taxes like customs duties."

"Meaning, all taxes including customs collected VAT and income taxes will now be used in the computation of taxes to be distributed 40% to the local governments," Rodriguez said.

The interagency body also proposed the creation of the Regional Development Authority to replace the Regional Development Council "to establish effective regional governance mechanisms that empower both elective officials and managers anc career officers of national government agencies at the regional level."

Other proposals of the interagency body include the tandem voting for president and vice president, the election of two senators for each of the 17 regions in the country, as well as increasing the term of congressmen and local officials to five years with only one reelection.

Rodriguez also said they are open to considering the proposals of the interagency body on anti-turncoatism and anti-political dynasty.

"[We will] go back to public hearings with the presence of the media so that we will be able to assure that this is not secretive, not exclusive to members, but this will be open to everyone," he said.

"So instead of February, being the month to have plenary proceedings on constituent assembly, we are going to meet and we are going to go back to hearing the proposals of the DILG," he added. —KBK, GMA News