MANILA, Philippines — Renewed talks on amending the Constitution are not an assurance that it will push through without the support of President Benigno Aquino III who has stuck to his views against charter change.
This was what House majority leader Neptali Gonzales II told reporters on Tuesday when asked about how charter change would fare without Aquino’s support.
“In their discussions, Speaker (Feliciano) Belmonte and Senate President (Juan Ponce) Enrile were in agreement that they should talk to the President if only to relay to him their stand on the matter,” Gonzales said.
He explained that although both bodies of the 15th Congress could go through the process of charter change even without the President’s support, Gonzales admitted that the steps in such a process would be very small.
“If the President won’t budge then that’s it, without his support it will be very slow and little progress will be made [on constitutional amendments],” Gonzales told reporters.
He said that within the framework of the Constitution, the House and the Senate could meet to discuss and vote on charter change and endorse it to the Commission on Elections, not necessarily involving the President.
“Politically speaking, if there’s no support from the President who has a high approval rating, we will be having difficulties particularly coming from the midterm elections when the President is said to be at his most powerful,” said the lawmaker.
What would most likely be a slow process to achieve charter change could also lead to the death of the proposed amendments, he told reporters.
Due to lack of time, the amendments may not be realized in the 15th Congress and Gonzales said that if it would be brought up yet again during the 16th Congress, and issues on extending Aquino’s term will most likely crop up.
“We are stuck with this Constitution with all of its imperfections—there’s a built-in opposition…,” Gonzales said.
He said no matter how good a proposal is it can be shot down by scare tactics from anti-charter change lawmakers who will raise the issue of term limits.
The lawmaker from Mandaluyong said he personally supported the amendments on the economic provisions of the Constitution.
“We should look beyond five years, after the term of the President. The global village was just a dream before but we’re way past that. We’re lagging behind,” he said.