House panel to tackle Cha-cha proposals of over 1,400 mayors after SONA

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments will convene after Congress opens its second regular session to discuss the Charter change (Cha-cha) proposals of over 1,400 mayors.

In a statement on Monday, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, panel chair, said the hearing could happen within the first two weeks after President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

“I will call a virtual meeting of our committee possibly within the first two weeks of our session to tackle the proposals of our 1,489 town mayors and other pending measures,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he would get the sense of the panel members and House leaders on discussing Cha-cha amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

On Friday, the Department of the Interior and Local Government announced that the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, which groups town mayors, is pushing for two constitutional reforms.

The proposed amendments include the institutionalization of the so-called Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court on internal revenue allotments (IRA) of local government units and the lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in businesses currently limited to Filipinos.

He explained that the Mandanas ruling expands the basis for the computation of IRA to include collections not only of the Bureau of Internal Revenue but also the customs duties collected by the Bureau of Customs.

The SC ruling expanded the scope to include not only taxes collected by the BIR but Customs as well, and other impositions, including half of the value-added tax (VAT) from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 60 percent of levies from the exploitation of natural wealth, the excise tax on tobacco products, other taxes provided in the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) and franchise taxes.

“The IRA allotments for the LGUs will be significantly increased which are needed by the LGUs to address the Covid-19 pandemic and other local development programs and strengthen local autonomy in our country,” Rodriguez said.

He noted that the lifting or relaxation of restrictions on foreign investment and even ownership of businesses are already proposed in the resolutions filed in the committee by some lawmakers.

“Especially this time when we need more foreign investments and to invite more foreign businesses relocating from China, in order to provide much-needed jobs for our people, this amendment is worth considering,” Rodriguez said.

The second regular session will start on the morning of July 27, while the afternoon is devoted to President Duterte’s SONA. (PNA)

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