Castelo: Not right time for Cha-cha

THE persistent Charter change (Cha-cha) initiative will not fly amid the worsening coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic, a House leader said on Friday.

“After more than three decades, we need to evaluate our Constitution, but today is not the right time,” House Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said.

“Our people and the international community, especially our Southeast Asian neighbors who are wondering why we have not been able to contain COVID-19 despite having the longest lockdown in the world, will see us as insensitive and arrogant if we tackle Cha-cha now,” she said.

Castelo, who represents Quezon City’s second district, expressed fears that putting constitutional amendment proposals on the legislative
agenda in the coming months would derail the country’s COVID-19 response.

“Cha-cha is a highly divisive issue. It will sap the nation’s attention, resources, logistics, and manpower, which will all be diverted to this untimely effort,” she said.

She said lawmakers, instead of attending to or talking about Cha-cha, should focus on COVID-19 response and economic stimulus measures, including those that the House has already approved and which are pending in the Senate.

“We are seeing spikes in big numbers in infections that require our collective and single-minded attention. Let us not be sidetracked by issues we can postpone debating and fighting on and resolving,” she said.

Castelo added that she and her politician colleagues who are not health experts should zero in on providing relief, livelihood assistance and other forms of help to millions of Filipinos affected by COVID-19. 

“Let us leave the matter of containing the spread of coronavirus to the experts. Speaking our mind even if we don’t have the technical, medical and scientific knowledge and expertise would just add to the cacophony of voices that will further confuse and annoy our already beleaguered people,” she stressed.