CHARTER change is not among President Rodrigo Duterte’s priorities based on his recent statements, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday, July 20, 2020.

“Alam niyo po linggu-linggo nakikipag-usap naman po ang Pangulo sa taong bayan at hindi naman po lumulutang ang Charter change bilang isang prioridad,” Roque said during a virtual press briefing Monday.

He said he was “sympathetic” with the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), which consists of 1,488 mayors.

Several lawmakers, meanwhile, have expressed dismay over the move to push for Charter change amid the battle against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said this is a “waste of time.”

“The move for Cha-cha (Charter change) especially now is a waste of time, effort and the much needed funds that should be re-channeled in fighting Covid-19,” Zarate said.

“Kung titignan unti-unti ng nakukuha ang administrasyong Duterte ang mga kagustuhan nito para lalong sikilin ang karapatan ng mamamayan at manatili sa poder, sa pamamagitan ng ng di pagbigay ng prangkisa ng ABS-CBN at terror law, ngayon Cha-cha naman ang kanilang ipipilit,” he added.

AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. appealed to government officials to prioritize the people’s needs instead of pushing for a constitutional reforms.

“I ask everyone, especially people in the government and the mayors, to be sensitive to the needs of the people and to prioritize their needs instead of pushing for their constitutional reform agenda. Now is not the time for this,” Garbin said.

Roque maintained that the President’s priority is the fight against Covid-19.

“Sa tingin ko maiintindihan naman ng mga mayor na bagama’t tama naman ‘yung kanilang advocacy na palawakin ‘yung era ng mga lokal na pamahalaan, para mas mabils din makapagbigay ng serbisyo sa kanilang mga kababayan, ang totoo po ay nakatutok po ngayon ang Presidente ang buong national government dito po sa Covid-19,” Roque said.

“Hindi po prioridad ang charter change,” he added.

The House committee on constitutional amendments is set to convene after Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 27 to discuss the proposed constitutional amendments.

The LMP is pushing for the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court and lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in industries that are currently limited to Filipinos. (SunStar Philippines)