Cayetano: Cha-cha for new term limits may be discussed by January

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House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano with wife Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 24) – The House of Representatives may pick up talks on charter change for longer term limits for politicians as early as January, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday.

He said Cha-cha to overhaul the term limits may be Congress' next priority right after the COVID-19 crisis settles down, which could be on the table by early 2021 if the country is back on its feet.

"If ma-solve next month 'yung COVID (if COVID can be solved next month), and we're up on our feet next January, February, then we can talk about Cha-cha," he added.

The time frame is different from that mentioned by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments. Rodriguez earlier said his panel may tackle the proposed constitutional amendment on term limits within the first two weeks of the opening of Congress on July 27.

Cayetano, whose family members hold positions of power in Taguig City, has been batting for a five-year term for three consecutive terms, or four-year terms without restriction for reelection.

"Ang problema sa argument sa Pilipinas, maraming hypocrisy [The problem with the arguments here in the Philippines is there's too much hypocrisy]. And I keep saying naman na no one is innocent. That's why we have to change the system," Cayetano told CNN Philippines' The Source, saying there appears to be selective ire towards families in power.

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He said term limits in the 1987 Constitution were not crafted to factor in "unintended consequences," which he said were meant to prevent a repeat of the decades-long reign of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Instead, the limits gave birth to more dynasties as politicians seek to cement their hold on their bailiwick.

Photos of Cayetano with his wife, Taguig-Pateros second district representative Lani Cayetano, brother Mayor Lino Cayetano, and sister Senator Pia Cayetano circulated online earlier this month after he blasted the Lopez family's long privilege as oligarchs.

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"I spoke after lumabas 'yon. Pero hindi naman kasi lumabas din 'yung picture ng lahat ng Aquinos na naging politiko sabay-sabay eh, 'di ba?," the lawmaker said, taking a swipe at former President Noynoy Aquino and his cousin, ex-Senator Bam Aquino in the past administration.

[Translation: I spoke when that came out. The photo of the Aquinos in power at the same time didn't surface, right?]

He went on to compare political dynasties with oligarchs, or ruling families by virtue of their riches or influence.

"If you look at history, there's always been some small dynasty somewhere. But ang mas importante, free ang lahat ng tao to choose [What's more important is people are free to choose]," Cayetano said.

"There are good people in the oligarchy, but there is no good oligarchic system –– it's always anti-people. But there are good dynasties all over the world, as well as there are bad dynasties," he added.

Cayetano is set to hand over the Speakership to Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco by late October based on a 2019 agreement struck by the two upon President Rodrigo Duterte's suggestion.

He said he hopes to see cha-cha prosper in his lifetime. For now, such efforts can run parallel to calls for a Constitutional convention for the relaxation of foreign ownership limits in the charter.