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Zubiri on Cha-cha push in House: I don’t understand the rush

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday said it confuses him why legislators from the House of Representatives are rushing the Senate to act on proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Zubiri made the remark in response to the statement of Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez that the Senate “cannot and should not ignore” the House’s initiative for Charter change (Cha-cha), stressing that it was “approved by an overwhelming vote and requires urgent attention.”

“Sometimes, I get confused. I don’t know what requires urgent attention. The priority measures of the LEDAC… who discusses the priority measures needed for our country, and Charter change is not there,” Zubiri said.

He reiterated that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had already said that Cha-cha is not a priority of his administration, and so is the Senate.

“I don't understand why our dear colleagues in the House would like to rush this when in all honesty, we passed the economic measures in the 18th Congress… We passed the Public Services Act of [Senator] Grace Poe, we passed the Retail Trade Act of Senator Koko Pimentel, and we passed the Foreign Investments Act of which Senator Imee Marcos was sponsor and author. These three was to answer the problem of the restrictive economic provision in the Constitution,” he continued.

The House earlier approved on third and final reading Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 6 which calls for a constitutional convention (con-con) to amend the 1987 Constitution. This aims to limit the Cha-cha initiative to the economic provisions of the constitution “to attract more foreign investments.”

Zubiri, however, said that the Senate is tackling Cha-cha with Senator Robin Padilla, who chairs the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, continuing his rounds around the country to conduct public hearings and listening tours on the matter.

“We have not prevailed upon him to stop that. He’s doing his job. We’re doing our job to listen to the people’s voice on this particular issue,” he added.

Last Thursday, Zubiri said he was informed that his position on Cha-cha is the reason behind rumors of a Senate leadership shake-up.

Padilla denied that he had anything to do with the rumored coup plot. Aside from him, nine other senators denied the rumors and most of them expressed full support for Zubiri.

Minimum wage

Meanwhile, Zubiri warned of a possible “brain drain” among Filipino workers if the issue on minimum wage is not addressed.

This was after he filed a bill seeking to increase the minimum wage of private workers by P150 amid the soaring inflation in the country.

He explained that there is a diaspora of workers from the Philippines because of the low minimum wage.

“We have 12 million Filipinos abroad because we don’t pay the right or at least decent wages here in the Philippines. We have to address that. If we don’t address that, we will have a brain drain. Mawawalan tayo ng workers [we will lose our workers],” Zubiri said.

“Kailangan natin bigyan ang ating manggagawa na tinatawag natin na living wage, hindi naman minimum wage [We have to give our workers a living wage and not a minimum wage], because a minimum wage is not a living wage." — Giselle Ombay/ VAL, GMA Integrated News