Palace still against Cha-cha, Lacierda says

Posted at 03/03/14 9:05 PM

MANILA - Malacanan remains against charter change but did not say if President Benigno Aquino will stop his allies from pursuing constitutional amendments.

This, after the Committee on Constitutional Amendments approved Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 authored by House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, which seeks to amend the Constitution to empower Congress to lift or dilute current restrictions on foreign ownership of land and foreign investments in the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in a text message, said "the position of the President with respect to charter change has been consistent. He does not see the need to amend the charter."

Asked if this means Aquino will stop his allies in Congress, Lacierda said “the legislature is independent of the executive branch and it is comprised of people with different held beliefs."

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate has criticized the committee's approval of resolution.

The Bayan Muna-led left-wing Makabayan bloc has also alleged that Aquino is secretly behind charter change.

"This inordinate, overspeeding by which the majority drove the Cha-cha train is ominous of another foreign colonization courtesy of Congress," the bloc said in a statement. "It's very clear that Cha-cha is the priority of the Aquino administration."

Lacierda, in response, said, “by now Bayan Muna should know that the President means what he says. The President has always been straightforward with his statements.”

He said he has not yet discussed with Aquino the issue on whether the President will talk to his allies to silence his critics.

In the past, Aquino's support was seen important in the passage of key initiatives in the House, like the impeachment of former Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, as well as the passage of the Reproductive Health Law.