Belmonte preempts political Cha-cha

MANILA — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Saturday assured the public that the House of Representatives will not push for Charter change to extend the term of President Aquino, who was roundly criticized by the New York Times for his “political mischief” that “jeopardizes Philippine democracy.”

As the spearhead of Cha-cha but only on economic reforms, Belmonte also renewed his stand against term extensions or lifting of term limit.

“I am against term extension. I’d like to confirm that’s my stand,” Belmonte said, stressing that political Charter Change will not be a priority of the present 16th Congress.

“The current effort now to amend economic provisions   started in the 15th congress.  For sure, it (political Cha-cha) will not be prioritized” said Belmonte, the vice president of the ruling Liberal Party.

It was Belmonte himself who authored Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 seeking specific amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution to spur economic growth.

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

But Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, an LP stalwart, is keen on filing his resolution to enable President Aquino to seek re-election in 2016 despite President Aquino’s declaration that he was not interested in seeking a second term.

As a “believer of the President,” Erice said Mr. Aquino should be able to continue the reforms he has initiated under his administration by giving him another term to lead the country.

Erice said he would file his resolution anytime next week.

President Aquino however doused cold water on Erice’s enthusiasm, saying that he was no longer keen on a second term after a New York Times editorial “Political Mischief in the Philippines” admonished him to “uphold the Constitution of a fragile democracy if only out of respect for his father and mother.”

Malacañang hit back at the NY Times and said that one of the world’s largest newspapers did not know what it was talking about.

For his part, Belmonte expressed belief that the ‘overwhelming’ majority in the  House will not  support Erice’s proposal even as he warned lawmakers against any attempt to insert political amendments to the discussions on his economic Cha-cha resolution.

He said political amendments would have to undergo a separate process.

The Makabayan Bloc composed of militant lawmakers have vowed to block any move to amend the Constitution by seeking redress from the Supreme Court.

“We will not allow Charter Change in any form,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said.

Zarate earlier raised fears that political amendments to the Constitution might be inserted at the bicameral conference committee.

This is one thing the people should watch out for, Zarate warned.