House sentiment is against term extension - Belmonte

Posted at 08/27/14 8:04 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. reiterated his stand against amending the term limit of the president even as he continues to pursue charter change (Cha-cha) in the House of Representatives.

“I'm against term extension. I'd like to confirm that's my stand,” Belmonte said.

He said no political amendments will be inserted into his proposal, currently being deliberated at the plenary of the House of Representatives.

“We have it very plain. Those are two different matters. You cannot put in political amendments in the current economic provision debates because it will be an entirely new matter, which has to start on its own initiative,” he added.

Belmonte believes the general sentiment in the House of Representatives is also against term extension.

“There are no political amendments as of this moment pending before us,” he said.

He said any moves on this will not be prioritized.

Belmonte cited that even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said there is no time for political charter change.

The Comelec is tasked to administer a plebiscite, whereby voters will ratify any changes to the Constitution.

Belmonte is confident the party leadership can thwart any attempt to insert political amendments.

On the amendments to the economic provisions, Belmonte said many would want to join in the interpellations.

He said these will give way to the 2015 budget deliberations once the measure is raised at the plenary.


During Wednesday's plenary session, the House resumed its deliberations on Belmonte's Resolution of Both Houses #1, which seeks to amend the 1987 Constitution and give powers to the Congress to pass a law lifting the constitutional limits to foreign investments and foreign ownership of land.

Taking the floor were Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares as interpellator, and Representative Elpidio Barzaga as sponsor for the session.

Barzaga cited the unemployment rate, and the need to grow economy in defense of Charter change.

Barzaga insisted the measure only wants to give Congress flexibility in lifting limits to foreign investments.

Colmenares, however, noted that considering how the argument of proponents has always been premised on the need to relax the limits, it is to be expected that should the amendment be approved, Congress will pass a law removing those limits.

He said Congress will be the center of huge lobbying.

He also belittled assurances that no political amendments will be inserted.

Barzaga has argued that should there be attempts to insert political amendments, it will be declared out of order since such would not be covered by the resolution. It will have to undergo a separate process.

However, Colmenares countered that it would always come down to a vote, and this is where the president's allies enjoy an advantage.

President Benigno Aquino III recently came under fire from critics after he expressed openness to Charter change to clip the powers of the judiciary and open the possibility of another term in office.