CAGAYAN de Oro 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez said Monday, July 20, 2020, that he will convene the House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments within two weeks of the opening of the regular session to continue deliberations on proposed constitutional amendments.

Regular session will open Monday, July 27, with the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I will call a virtual meeting of our committee possibly within the first two weeks of our session to tackle the proposals of our 1,489 town mayors and other pending measures," Rodriguez, chairperson of the committee, said.

Town mayors are pushing for constitutional amendments amid the rising cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the country.

Ilocos Sur Mayor Chavit Singson, president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), said Friday, July 17, that at least 1,488 mayors are suggesting constitutional reforms.

Singson said the mayors suggested the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court and pushed for the lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in industries that are currently limited to Filipinos.

The Mandanas ruling seeks to broaden the financial and logistical resources of local government units by getting internal revenue allotments (IRA) from national taxes as mandated by the 1991 Local Government Code.

Barangays Bagacay, Taclobo, and Batinguel in Dumaguete City will receive the highest IRA shares of P8.7 million, P8.6 million and P8.3 million, respectively for 2020.

“Institutionalizing the Mandanas ruling will be a big help to poor regions. Every municipality especially the poor ones are short of funds and they will definitely welcome all additional budget, especially since this will help their development,” Singson said.

According to Rodriguez, local government units will be able to combat the threats of Covid-19 with higher IRA shares.

“The IRA allotments for the LGUs will be significantly increased which are needed by the LGUs to address the Covid 19 pandemic and other local development programs and strengthen local autonomy in our country,” Ridriguez said.

For the second proposal, Rodriguez said that the country needs more foreign investments to address the problem of unemployment.

“Especially this time when we need more foreign investments and to invite more foreign businesses relocating from China, in order to provide much needed jobs for our people, this amendment is worth considering,” Rodriguez said.

In February 2020, the House committee postponed voting on a measure seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution as proposed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government Inter-Agency Task Force on Federalism (IATF).

Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, however, said the government must first focus on the country's battle against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) epidemic.

In her radio show on Sunday, July 19, Robredo expressed dismay over local government officials who support the move to introduce constitutional amendments despite the crisis. (SunStar Philippines)