DE LIMA: PRIORITIZE ISSUES ON POVERTY, INEQUALITY BEFORE CHA-CHA

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged her fellow legislators to focus on addressing the more pressing issues plaguing the country, notably poverty and inequality in lieu of revising or amending the 1987 Constitution.

De Lima said Charter Change (Cha-Cha) is being pushed by President Duterte and his allies in order to put in place a federal government that would strengthen their political machinery and perpetuate themselves in power.

“Duterte’s charter change is unnecessary and only serves to ensure PDP-Laban’s and Duterte’s hold on power by giving political dynasties in the regions the ultimate power of selecting the President through a parliament instead of by a direct vote of the people. Besides, there are other matters that should be tackled first,” she said.

One of the key advocacies of Duterte’s PDP-Laban and was among the key issues he highlighted during the 2016 campaign is federalism, which could be possible through a revision of the 1987 Constitution.

House and Senate members, however, have been in disagreement whether they would vote jointly or separately in opening the Charter to revisions or amendments.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, said lawmakers should address the real causes of poverty and inequality and see what else can be done besides jumping into federalism.

“I think we should concentrate first on rebuilding or, perhaps, searching for the real and all-embracing Filipino identity, before we go about dividing ourselves and giving people a second identity that will further dismember the national identity and the country,” she said.

“Let us address… corruption, the culture of impunity, failures or weaknesses in the area of social legislation, the destruction of the rule of law, and the weakening of our institutions,” she added.

The former justice secretary also stated that Congress leaders can do better by crafting meaningful laws or revising previous legislations, saying how “lawmaking is a never-ending process.”

“They claim that there is unfairness in the allocation of internal revenue allotments among different regions. Then, let’s fix that. Let’s revisit the Local Government Code and see what else needs to be updated,” she said.

“They keep calling the ARMM a failed experiment. Fine. Let’s discuss what made it fail. Because the principles that they are promoting as key aspects of federalism can also be achieved through the establishment of autonomous regions and even through the principle of local autonomy,” she added.

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