President unflinching on anti-Charter change stance


Whether it is economic or political amendments to the 1987 Constitution, President Benigno Aquino 3rd is not buying it, a Palace official said Saturday.
Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte revealed the President’s position following initiatives in the House of Representatives to revise the Charter to remove the 40 percent cap on foreign ownership in businesses and public utilities and allow a term extension for legislators.
Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. filed House Resolution No. 1 which covers the economic provisions of the Constitution, while Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed House Bill 1343 which extends the term of lawmakers.
“I cannot predict, nor do I want to speak on the future given the new amendments that are being proposed by Congressman Rufus Rodriguez and his brother. But I spoke to the President about the issue of Charter Change just yesterday, and his response was that his  position has not changed,” Valte told Radyo ng Bayan, referring to Aquino’s opposition to Charter Change.
Belmonte wants foreign ownership rules relaxed to attract foreign capital that would spur more jobs and economic activity. Rodriguez seeks a four-year term for lawmakers under a unicameral legislative body, and they can be reelected for an indefinite number of times.
The Constitution limits a legislator’s term to three years and reelection to two consecutive terms.
“That’s it. It was verbatim. He said, my position has not changed [on Charter Change],” Valte said.
Belmonte, who is assured of retaining the Speakership in the 16th Congress, has said he won’t raise Charter Change discussions during the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDA) meeting, a group convened to identify the priority bills of the Aquino administration.
“No, I won’t bring it to LEDAC meeting because I really think that we ought to hear out what the administration wants and give them our full backing. I’d play it by ear so I’d know what to do,” Belmonte, the vice chairman of the LP, told reporters.
“I won’t allow it [Cha-Cha] to stand in the way of priority bills of the President, in deference to his program of government,” he said.


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