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Senators to House: Let us take lead on Cha-cha

MANILA, Philippines —  The House of Representatives should let the Senate take the lead on economic Charter change, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said yesterday, as he urged Congress to just “adopt the Senate resolution” as earlier agreed with Speaker Martin Romualdez “so that there will no longer be any animosity and uncertainty.”

Zubiri also thanked President Marcos for reiterating his trust in the Senate to lead the deliberations on easing restrictive constitutional provisions on public utilities, educational institutions and advertising.

“I thank the President for having trust and confidence in the Senate to lead the Charter change process. We will do our best to be transparent and focus on non-controversial economic provisions,” Zubiri said.

Asked if the President’s message is meant for the House members to stop supporting the gathering of signatures for a people’s initiative, Zubiri said: “As far as I’m concerned, the people’s initiative is (dead in) the water.”

For his part, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said the House should “heed the statement of the President” to defer to the Senate’s Charter change deliberations.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian hoped the President’s statement would end the word war over Charter change.

“The President has spoken, that the Senate should take the lead. This bickering will not get us anywhere,” Gatchalian said.

“We thank the President for clarifying it, and it’s clear that he trusts the Senate,” Senate majority leader Joel Villanueva added.

Estrada also questioned the House’s Charter change resolution for its provisions on voting jointly that would make the House outnumber the Senate in the vote.

“We are very supportive, but not with the Resolution of Both Houses No. 7, which says that we have to vote jointly. We have to vote separately. Because the essence of bicameralism will not be enforced if that’s the case,” Estrada said.

Though the House’s RBH-7 has the exact provisions for an economic Charter change as the Senate’s RBH-6, it differed on the manner of voting.

The House resolution said Congress can vote on the constitutional amendments by “three-fourths of all its members,” which means that the House and Senate should vote