House majority won’t block political amendments in discussing Cha-cha
MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives has already begun discussing possible changes in the charter concerning economic provisions, but the possible amendments may also involve term limits.
The majority floor leader in the House of Representatives said the bloc would not go as far as blocking moves to amend the term limits in the Constitution, an idea that first floated in a bid to allow President Benigno Aquino III to seek reelection.
In a press briefing on Tuesday, Rep. Neptali Gonzales II added that under the House rules, any representative may introduce political amendments to Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 1, filed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. that seeks to ease foreign ownership restrictions in the charter.
Belmonte had said he would not allow the chamber to amend his resolution to extend term limits of any official. He even signed a pledge that only economic provisions would be signed.
But Gonzales said the bloc could not prevent anybody from making such proposals, adding that it is up to the plenary to decide whether or not it would accept the political amendments to Belmonte’s resolution.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice first made the proposal to file a bill amending the charter to allow Aquino to run for reelection in 2016.
Gonzales also said that should Erice start making proposals to Belmonte’s resolution, the bloc would not stop it.
“Nobody can stop anybody from proposing individual amendments. It is up to the body to decide to accept it or not. At the end of the day, you’re going to need a three fourths vote,” Gonzales said.
In a text message, Erice said he is more open about filing his bill “considering that (Belmonte’s) resolution has already passed the committee (level).” It hurdled the committee on constitutional amendments on March this year.
But Erice did not give an assurance that he would not propose changes to Belmonte’s resolution during the period of amendments.
“I am still studying Resolution No. 1. Can’t comment as of now,” Erice said.
Gonzales also said the bloc could not block Erice’s bill amending the political provisions of the charter.
“Who am I to say na hindi ka pwedeng magfile (you’re not allowed to file). We respect the right of any member to file anything as long as it is an exercise of is right,” Gonzales said of Erice, a fellow LP stalwart.
In an exclusive televised interview, Aquino said he is open to amending the charter, but only to clip the powers of the Supreme Court, which has collided with the executive over its decision to scrap some practices of Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
But when asked about his being open to second term, Aquino only said he has to listen to the clamor of his “bosses.”
Gonzales said he was surprised about Aquino’s change of heart, adding that he didn’t want to read Aquino’s mind. The President has not supported Belmonte’s economic Charter change.
“Thinking about it is different from making marching orders,” Gonzales said of Aquino.
Aquino made the surprise move of being open to Charter change even as the Constitution was crafted under the presidency of his late mother Corazon Aquino after she had toppled the administration of late stronghold Ferdinand Marcos.
Moves to amend the Charter had failed in the House as it was seen as a political tool to extend the term limits of officials.
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