The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. acknowledged that President Benigno Aquino III is opposed to charter change when the he left out the issue in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday. But the leader of the House of Representatives will continue his push to amend the Constitution, limited to its economic provisions, by talking to the President.
“Obviously, he’s not in favor,” Belmonte said in a text message when asked about the lack of mention of charter change in the SONA.
“We will discuss this probably next week,” he added, referring to a meeting with the President and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
Misamis Oriental Representative Loreto Ocampos, chairman of the constitutional amendments committee, said the committee with take the position of the House leadership on charter change.
“We can have a position after the dialogue with the House Speaker, the Senate President, and the President. All statements are broad as of now, specifics yet on what part in the economic provision shall be amended. The devil is in the details,” Ocampos added.
Several bills are pending in the committee seeking to amend the 1987 charter. Loreto has conducted public hearings and consultations to get the feel of the people on the issue.
In various statements and in his address to the chamber at the opening of the session, Belmonte spoke mainly of limiting the changes to the economic provisions, adding he does not want to deal with its other aspects.
He also said he wanted it done through a constituent assembly so the process would be faster, but stressed that voting would be done separately by both chambers of Congress.
The House leader said the amendment could be done with the introduction of a single phrase on the specific provision of Article 12 on national economy and patrimony, which lays out the restrictions. In this, he said the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” could be added.
Thus, he said, that Congress would still need to pass specific laws for opening up ownership of land, utilities or media, for example.
After a voting of two-thirds by both the Senate and the House, the amended charter would be passed like a regular law, and would be brought to the Commission on Election, which would be asked to conduct a plebiscite to get the decision of the public.