Belmonte mulls Cha-cha plebiscite in 2016

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Thursday, June 5, 2014


By John Carlo Cahinhinan

THE House of Representatives is mulling the possibility of placing a rider question on the issue of Charter change in the ballots for the 2016 national elections once the proposed amendment to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution pushes through.

"Instead of having a separate plebiscite, nag-iisip ako how we can have it ride for instance in the next election. Baka it could be a -- is it legal to just make it a question in the ballot box to be checked and so forth," House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said.

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The holding a separate election would entail a big sum of money, he said.

According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), voter turnout is higher during presidential elections compared to the midterm polls.

With this, the Speaker believes that "doing it that way it will be well discussed because a lot of people will be talking about it."

The House leadership is already anticipating that Cha-cha is almost a walk in the park and he can easily muster the needed three-fourth votes.

However, Belmonte stressed that when it reaches the Senate, he cannot speculate on the sentiments of the senators.

"Senate President [Franklin] Drilon told me in our latest meeting that if the House can do it why they can’t do it," Belmonte said.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, in his last appearance before the House committee on constitutional amendments, assured panel members that needed budget for the plebiscite is already incorporated in their budget request for 2015.

The House Speaker has earlier filed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 1 at the opening of the 16th Congress last July 5 seeking to add the phrase "unless provided by law" in portions of the present Constitution particularly on Sections 2, 3, 7, 10, and 11 of Article 12 (National Patrimony and Economy); Section 4 of Article 14 (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports); and Section 11 of Article 16 (General Provisions).

Belmonte said that latest measure it is the simplest form of amending charter, adding that it will not directly allowed the restoration of foreign ownership in the country but rather but rather "just providing keys to meet contingencies." (Sunnex)

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