WILL SPEAKER KEEP HIS PROMISE?
• August 17, 2014
• Written by Ryan Ponce Pacpaco
• Published in Top Stories
THE House independent bloc predicted yesterday that Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. will remain committed to their resolution rejecting political amendments to the Constitution even as a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) is set to hold a consultation with his constituents tomorrow on a resolution calling for Charter change (Cha-cha) allowing a second term for President Benigno Aquino.
“The self-serving political amendments would not fly here at the House of Representatives especially that Speaker Belmonte who is pushing for economic Charter change promised us to fight political amendments,” Leyte Rep. Ferdinand “Martin” Romualdez, head of the House independent bloc and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), stressed.
Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza recalled that Belmonte promised six months ago that he would not touch the political provisions in the process of deliberating on the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
“Those who committed and signed the pledge said that they will resign if they touch the political provisions,” said Atienza, a member of the Romualdez bloc, adding that Belmonte even called him to his office and personally promised him that the political provisions will not be tampered with.
Caloocan City Rep. Egay Erice, a stalwart of LP and a very close associate of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas, announced his scheduled consultation with his constituents tomorrow before filing the resolution setting the term of the president and vice president at four years with one opportunity for reelection.
“I will conduct consultation in my district on Tuesday at nine a.m. at the Pag-Ibig Building along Rizal Avenue Extension, Corner 10th Avenue. After that process, I will file the resolution,” Erice said, adding there are “no marching orders and no caucus yet” regarding Cha-cha among administration allies in the House of Representatives.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo “Rodito” Albano III, a member of the House minority bloc, has urged Belmonte to immediately convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to jump start amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
“Time is ripe for Charter change. We have seen in the past that President Aquino III had been cold to any proposal or attempt to amend the Constitution, but now the President is amendable to amending the Constitution. This is a big opening, a great opportunity and a challenge to the House leadership especially Speaker Belmonte, the prime mover of Charter change, to push for it now,” said Albano.
Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, LP secretary general, also admitted there was no marching order to push Cha-cha, adding that even a caucus on the matter has yet to be called by the leadership.
Nevertheless, Sarmiento is open to Cha-cha. “Public servants should always be open to revisit or possibly amend any provision of the Constitution or a law for that matter. The US has amended their Constitution several times to keep up with a changing world.”
Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, spokesman and secretary general of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said talk about political Cha-cha was meant to pressure the Supreme Court into reversing its unconstitutional Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) ruling.