Palace execs take conflicting stands on Charter change-A A +A
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
PALACE officials have taken conflicting stand on the issue of amending some provisions of the 25-year-old Constitution.
Presidential adviser on political affairs Ronald Llamas said earlier Tuesday that Malacañang is open to amending the Constitution only if the proposals would fit with the administration's reform agenda.
But Budget Secretary Florencio Abad denied that President Benigno Aquino III has changed his position on Charter change.
Llamas said the Chief Executive would probably give his nod to Charter change especially if he sees the proposed measures helpful in achieving government's reform objectives.
"If they fit with President's reform agenda, and are necessary, then they can be considered," Llamas said.
He said the administration is entertaining the possibility of amending 1987 Constitution, but said "any proposal must undergo rigorous evaluation and must be shown to be in line with and indispensable towards achieving the administration's reform objectives."
Llamas said Charter change cannot simply be about change for its own sake but specific proposals will have to be assessed and evaluated.
"Well, if you go by the President's position on this, I don't think it has really changed. He doesn’t consider charter change a priority," Abad said in response to Llamas's statement.
Abad cited surveys conducted by the business community and independent pollsters, which ranked Charter change "very low" in the list of reforms that need to be implemented by the government.
"The President wants to focus in those areas, which have been clearly and emphatically identified by the people and the business community as areas that need urgent changes like corruption, the problem of poverty, you know, the problem of red tape," he said, adding that those are the things that currently preoccupy Aquino's mind.
"I don't know if Secretary Llamas has, you know, has been interpreted correctly in the way he responded to you. But insofar as we're concerned, the President's position on this issue has not changed," Abad said.
Asked if the President is inclined to House Speaker Feleciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile regarding their views on Charter change, Abad said, "There will be an occasion for that after the Congress resumes its session and we will have to meet for the Ledac."
He said the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council will be the avenue by which the Senate, the Congress, and the Executive can agree on priority legislations.
The Senate President proposed earlier to amend the Constitution to allow the increase in military spending and enable the country to deal better with security issues such as defending the Philippine territorial waters in the West Philippines Sea.
Belmonte, on the other hand, said the House of Representatives would only be amenable to amending the Constitution's economic provisions and will not entertain political amendments.
Several lawmakers believed that Congress does not have enough time to discuss Charter change due to budget deliberations and the upcoming 2013 midterm elections.
But Belmonte is positive to push for Constitutional amendment, saying all they need is Aquino's blessings.
Aquino earlier said that amending the Constitution is not a priority of his administration. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said this position remains the same.
Llamas, meanwhile, said the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill remains a priority legislation of the administration.
He said while the Freedom of Information is still not a priority bill, it is likewise high on the list of measures being given serious study and consideration. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)