Term limits won’t be messed with—EnrileBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday opened the upper chamber’s third regular session in the 15th Congress, and slammed the door on term extensions for elected officials in the renewed drive to amend the Constitution.
In a speech, Enrile said Charter change could become a major issue in the chamber but maintained that any amendments to the Constitution would be limited to its economic provisions.
“Let me be very clear about this–we will agree to such a move to amend the Constitution but only with respect to the economic provisions of the present Charter,” he said.
“Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and I do not seek to revise the Constitution. Rather we seek to amend only certain economic provisions so that there will be more flexibility in the ownership of certain industries, particularly those involving the exploration, development and utilization of our natural resources.”
In a later interview, Enrile ruled out amending other provisions of the Constitution, such as one setting the term limits of government officials.
“It will not happen because the two houses agreed and we will pass the resolution. You will see whether we are going to tinker with other provisions of the Constitution,” he said.
Enrile said only he and Belmonte were pushing for amendments. He said he had not discussed the matter with his Senate colleagues.
“I have to discuss it with them. I cannot assume their concurrence but I will explain the thrust of our proposal,” he told reporters.
Enrile in his speech laid down the Senate’s legislative agenda, one focused on helping spur the economy by improving the business climate.
“The improvement of the economy is a vital government concern. But our way of allowing business to prosper must be guided, not only by a sense of free enterprise, but also by the spirit of stewardship,” he said.
“Your Senate, as part of this government, wishes to generate an economic climate that encourages the creation of goods and services in a playing field that is intentionally made fair for all,” he said.
Enrile said the upper chamber would prioritize measures such as the one seeking to “prohibit or discourage the formation of anticompetitive mergers and anticompetitive conduct.”
“In order to protect our people, we must ensure that prices are dictated by the market and not fixed as a result of any corporation’s control over the quantity of products produced,” he said.