Group: Zubiri’s RBH opens Senate gates to ‘speeding chacha train’

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri (Senate of the Philippines photo)

A labor group urged Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri to prioritize the enactment of his proposed P150 across-the-board wage hike nationwide instead of dabbling in efforts to tinker with the 1986 Constitution.

In a statement, Partido Manggagawa (PM) said Zubiri “wiggled 180 degrees from where he stood 11 months ago” when he filed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 in the Senate.

RBH No. 6, which proposes to convene a constitutional convention to amend the economic provision of the Constitution, was passed in the House of Representatives (HOR) in March 2023.

The House version of RBH 6, explained House Speaker Martin Romualdez in a statement posted at HOR website, “aims to limit its Charter amendments to the ‘restrictive economic provisions of the basic law’ in the hope that the changes would pave the way for the country to attract more foreign investments.”

In response to this, Zubiri said the Senate lacks the number to dance with chacha or Charter change.

“18 boto ang kailangan ng ating mga kasamahan sa Senado para umusad ang Charter change, wala kaming numero na ganyan. So for us, it’s moot and academic. We might as well focus on the LEDAC priority measures, which will help solve the problem of inflation, smuggling.”

But PM said Zubiri’s move only prompted the chacha train to move forward.

“His recent move, therefore, played little to stop the initiative. On the contrary, Zubiri finally unlocks the Senate gates to allow the speeding chacha train which will be taking the shortest route via ConAss or constituent assembly,” the group said.

“Instead of exposing and thwarting the people’s initiative (PI) scam, the Senate under the leadership of Juan Miguel Zubiri made a surprise move Monday, by initiating the same Charter change (chacha) mode that he categorically opposed before.”

PM also cringed at the justification of PI/chacha moves that it was meant to liberalize economic rules in the country to attract more investments.

The group said the justification is more like a ruse to extend the reach and stay of political dynasties in power.

“Played at the top, these current political moves seem to lead us towards the same political direction. Traditional politicians want more economic liberalization and deregulation when these were the same policies that effectively killed our industry and agriculture. They want freer entry to foreign capital but have failed to address the high cost of electricity and corruption in government which drive investors away. They want longer terms of office when the sad reality is they also are the political dynasties that bask in power for several decades now.”

PM spokesperson Mario Andon said they will also not fall for Zubiri’s explanation that his move “was meant to avert occurrence of a constitutional crisis.”

“Surveys, however, show that people were mostly concerned about inflation, wage hike, unemployment, poverty and hunger. People fear nothing about charter infirmities nor a constitutional crisis. Knowing all these, Zubiri should rather have prioritized the enactment of his proposed P150 across-the-board wage hike nationwide despite the opposition by local business and foreign investors,” Andon added.