President Marcos Jr. Seeks Cha-cha Plebiscite Aligned with 2025 Midterm Elections

PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. (KJ ROSALES/PPA POOL)
Spread the love

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has expressed his desire to hold the plebiscite on Charter Change (Cha-cha) simultaneously with the 2025 midterm elections in order to save public funds. This proposal was shared by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri after he and other senators attended a ceremonial signing of two laws at the Palace.

Zubiri, along with Senate President Pro Tempore Lorna Regina “Loren” Legarda and Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, filed Resolution of Both Houses 6 (RBH 6), which aims to amend certain economic provisions of the Constitution to attract more foreign investors. The President has emphasized the need for the Senate to lead the move to amend the 1987 Constitution, specifically focusing on the restrictive economic provisions related to public services, education, and the advertising industry.

The President’s preference for holding the plebiscite along with the 2025 elections is driven by the significant cost savings. According to Zubiri, a separate plebiscite would cost between P12 billion and P14 billion. In response, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has stated its readiness to conduct the plebiscite during the 2025 midterm elections if specified by Congress in its resolution.

By combining both exercises, there is no rush to push for Charter change, as Zubiri explained. The Senate aims to discuss and approve the resolution before the sine die break, which is their target date. Additionally, Zubiri has requested Senator Angara to explore the possibility of including a rider question on the constitutional amendments on the back page of the ballot.

The President has also expressed concern about the relationship between the Senate and the House, particularly after a public word war erupted over Charter change. Zubiri reassured the President that the signing ceremony had improved the situation, stating that the ceasefire has been holding. The President reiterated his focus on amending economic provisions and emphasized that there should be no political amendments.

The Comelec has confirmed the feasibility of holding the plebiscite on Charter change simultaneously with the 2025 elections. Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia stated that they would comply with their mandate in accordance with the Constitution, despite the tight timeline. Garcia explained that the Comelec could conduct the plebiscite alongside the regular elections in 2025 with minimal additional costs, such as additional allowances for public school teachers and poll workers.

Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco added that the terms of reference for the lease purchase of the automated counting machines (ACMs) already allow for the inclusion of other electoral exercises like the plebiscite. The question on the ballot should specify the provision of the Constitution along with the proposed amendment. The Comelec estimates that conducting a national plebiscite would cost approximately P13 billion.

Previously, Garcia had mentioned a Supreme Court ruling that prohibited the simultaneous holding of a plebiscite and a regular election. However, he clarified that it could be legally done if specified in the resolution of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In the House, where deliberations on a similar Charter change resolution have begun, lawmakers are divided over the process that should be followed.

The proposal to combine the plebiscite on Charter change with the 2025 midterm elections aims to save public funds and streamline the amendment process. While there are still discussions and debates to be had, the government is working towards a resolution that will attract more foreign investors and address the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution.

Source: The Manila Times

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *