Chances for constitutional amendments seen as slim

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By Jefferson Antiporda and Catherine S. Valente Reporters

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The chances of having constitutional amendments during the last half of President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s term are slim.

That’s because Sen. Franklin Drilon, who is touted to be the next Senate President, is opposed to Charter change.

The proposal to amend the 26-year-old Constitution was introduced by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte two years ago. It never took off because President Aquino’s appears lukewarm to it.

With the anticipated change in the Senate leadership, the proposal may again be shelved since Drilon believes that Charter change is not the only way to improve the economy.

“We have made great strides in our economy in the last three years even without the Cha-cha (Charter change),” Drilon said.

He said Charter change also has some negative effects because it diverts the attention of the people and causes a certain degree of instability to the economic policies.

Drilon noted that instead of tinkering with the Constitution, it would be better if legislators and concerned government officials first look at the country’s investment law.

“Let’s study first our laws and look for ways to make it attractive to investors without tinkering with the Constitution,” he said.

Drilon also said that unless the President changes his mind, the Charter change proposal will not move forward.

Charter change supporters want the economic provisions of the Constitution amended to give more flexibility on the issue of foreign ownership.

But some lawmakers have suggested that amendments should also touch other important provisions like the political structure.

Sen. Edgardo Angara said governors and mayors should be given enough power and control over natural resources, revenues and handling of personnel.

The President met with Drilon on Wednesday afternoon but Palace deputy spokesman Abigael Valte said she did not know what they talked about.

She said the President had said that he will not intervene in the reorganization at the Senate or the election of a new Senate President.

Valte said Aquino maintains a good relationship with Enrile.

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