Belmonte's Cha-Cha deadline faces opposition

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

PARTY-LIST lawmakers are ready to challenge initiatives to amend the 1987 Constitution following House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte's pronouncement that Charter Change (Cha-cha) could be approved as early as the first quarter of 2014.

Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said the Gabriela party-list will "block" Belmonte's resolution to amend certain restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution through a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass).

"We are ready to block this. We already filed a Gabriela resolution to reject moves for Cha-Cha, especially economic and political amendments. One hearing was already conducted on this," Ilagan said in a text message.

Aside from opposing congressional initiatives for Cha-Cha, Gabriela House Resolution 94 also urges other congressmen to reject the same for the "welfare and interests of the majority of the Filipino people." The resolution is pending before the House committee on constitutional amendments.

On Wednesday, Belmonte said the House leadership is determined to approve amendments to the Constitution.

"We will approve it in the House, and I am hopeful that the Senate will do the same. During the first quarter baka ma-approve namin," Belmonte said.

Like in the 15th Congress, Belmonte wanted to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to some provisions of the Articles.

Belmonte hoped President Benigno Aquino III will change his position on Cha-Cha.

Iloilo Representative Jerry Treñas, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, supported Belmonte's Cha-cha initiatives, saying the Constitution is already "out of tune" with economic realities.

"The limitations set by our Constitution on the ownership of businesses and real estate is our Achilles’ heel in our bid to attract FDIs. Even countries like Vietnam are now overtaking us economically because they have already embraced the many realities on how the world conducts their businesses," he said.

Trenas pointed out that as a separate and co-equal branch of the Executive, the House of Representatives can pursue Cha-Cha even without the blessing of the President.

"I think that many of us in the House of Representatives are really for Charter Change. Others are not just that vocal but now that no less than our Speaker has spoken, I think that more congressmen will voice their support for his position on the charter change issue," he said. (Sunnex)

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