PNoy won't stop Cha-cha train

Posted at 03/04/14 6:30 PM

MANILA - President Aquino will not stop his allies from pursuing moves to change the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution. This is despite his own statements that he is against the proposal to amend the country's basic law.

Asked if President Aquino will talk to his congressional allies about Charter change, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Sonny Coloma said: "The President has consistently expressed his opposition to Charter change and for good reason."

"He has stated this not only within the country but even in foreign lands where he has made visits. Now, for people to say that there should be presidential action on what the Congress is doing now, I think, is to tread on the issue of separation of powers and the President is not minded towards interfering in the process of Congress."

Coloma dismissed criticisms that the President is secretly backing Charter change while publicly disowning it. He said critics who accuse the President of backing Charter change are not part of the 70% of Filipinos who support and trust Aquino.

The Palace spokesman said it is unlikely that Aquino would even bring up the subject to his allies in Congress.

"Hindi naman niya ugaling gumawa ng mga ganyang aksyon. Ang ating Pangulo ay parating upfront sa mga ganyang isyu," he said.

Asked if the Palace is not concerned that the non-action of the President may be interpreted as a form of support, Coloma said, "Pwede mong tanungin siya bukas at sigurado akong ganoon pa rin ang kasagutan. Pwede ninyo siyang tanungin next week. Magkasubukan na lang. Para siguro 'yan sa mga kulang sa pagtitiwala."

Coloma said the President does not see the need to make any more moves to stop the Charter change proposal since he does not consider it a priority.

He said that during the deliberations on the Reproductive Health Bill, Aquino merely asked his allies to put it to a vote.

Some of the President's own allies even voted against the measure, Coloma said.

"Tinawag lang ba niya diyan iyong kanyang mga kaalyado? Hindi ba't tinawag niya lahat? Pabor o hindi pabor. In fact, doon sa RH, marami doon sa kanyang mga kaalyado ang bumoto laban doon. Kaya wala siguro tayong masasabi na may record o may karanasan sa kanyang pamamahala na ginamit niya ang kanyang posisyon upang mambraso ng mga mambabatas," he said.

Coloma also clarified that the Palace did not have a hand in the matter of the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

"Iyon namang sa impeachment, maraming nagulat doon dahil hindi naman pinag-uusapan din talaga iyon, basta naganap na lamang. Although, pwede ninyong sabihin na malinaw naman iyong direksyon dahil ang Pangulo ay nagsalita noon sa mga --- publicly. Pero that was not the subject of any lobbying effort. Kaya kung yon ang hinahanap natin, hindi siguro makatwirang magsabi na ginawa iyon noong nakaraan at pwede namang gawin ngayon."

The President's critics, meanwhile, criticized the Lower House for approving Speaker Sonny Belmonte's resolution to change the Charter.

"Removing the 60/40 restriction on foreign capital opens the floodgates to the invasion of investors seeking to squeeze huge profits from the Philippine health care sector, and poor women resolutely oppose this," Gabriela Women Party (GWP) secretary general Lana Linaban said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said government should provide capital to local industries, agriculture and businesses since they cannot compete with transnational companies.

He said lifting the existing Constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership of land, natural resources and strategic industries such as utilities and media is "practically giving up the country's future to foreign investors."