Speaker maintains stand vs lifting term limits

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014


HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. maintained Tuesday that he will not allow any move by his colleagues to insert political amendments to the Constitution that will enable term extension for elected officials including President Benigno Aquino III.

“We won't allow such amendments (on the term extension of elected officials),” Belmonte said.

Belmonte already expressed doubts and remained non-committal on the proposal made by some of his allies in the ruling Liberal Party (LP) that would allow the Chief Executive to seek re-election in the 2016 presidential polls.

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The House Speaker is only focused on lifting the economic restrictions on foreign ownership in the Charter by inserting the phrase “unless provided by law” 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).

He vowed in manifesto last March that the House of Representatives will strictly tackle the economic provisions of the Constitution and will cancel the proceedings if provisions for amending the term limits will be inserted.

Belmonte, along with 94 other lawmakers, signed the manifesto prepared by the independent minority bloc of Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II clarified that they are not frustrating anyone who want to push for political charter change.

He said the Belmonte-backed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 1 is already on the floor and just waiting for the sponsor to defend the bill on Tuesday.

“Don't get us wrong but we are taking up the economic Cha-cha to frustrate political Cha-cha. It just happened that it is one of the priority bills of the leadership. Nothing had been filed and no one knows if anyone will file,” Gonzales said.

Meanwhile, Valenzuela City Representative Sherwin Gatchalian urged Malacañang to just focus on jobs creation, which is the flagship priority of Aquino during his Palace campaign in 2010, rather than to push through with the constitutional amendments.

Gatchalian believes the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey provides a strong argument against tinkering with the Constitution’s political provisions, particularly the term extension for the president.

“The SWS survey on rising unemployment should serve as a signal for Malacañang to abandon plans of amending the Constitution and spend the last two years of President Noynoy Aquino’s term creating jobs and alleviating the plight of poor Filipinos through prompt delivery of basic social services such as free hospitalization and affordable medicines,” said Gatchalian.

The lawmaker earlier withdrew his support to the planned amendment of the Constitution’s economic provisions after leading members of the LP announced that they will also push for the lifting of the term limit for the President to enable him to seek another term.

Gatchalian said extending the term of the President would only cause divisiveness among the populace and derail the much needed legislation to reduce poverty.

“This is a very divisive issue. Putting this in the agenda will not be productive for the country at this time,” said Gatchalian, an ally of presidential aspirant Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Gatchalian said Aquino should not underestimate the judgment of the people in making the right choice in 2016. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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