House committee can OK Charter change in a month – Belmonte
MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr is proceeding with his initiative to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution in spite of the President's declarations that he is not interested in the initiative.
Saying this is his "priority," Belmonte expects the House committee on constitutional amendments to tackle and approve the proposal "within the month."
In his timetable, the measure will likely reach the plenary within "the first semester," he told reporters on Thursday, January 23.
Belmonte is still hopeful he will get the support of President Benigno Aquino III once he sees that it is only meant to amend the economic provisions and won't touch term limits. "Let's also face the fact that it's very difficult to pass the two chambers without at least his tacit support or his hands-off policy," Belmonte said.
"I hope to get the full cooperation of the House on this topic. We can never be sure of 100%, but the requirement is 3/4 vote. I hope we will be able to get that 3/4," Belmonte said.
A 3/4 vote in the House of Representatives is at least 217 votes of the total 289 members.
It has been Belmonte's advocacy to amend constitutional provisions limiting foreign ownership of land. This discourages investors, he said. Relaxing the limits would result in increased foreign direct investment, he said.
"Because of the attractiveness of our market, over the past several years we have also money coming into the country. These are monies that come in, buy into the stock exchange and leave at a moments notice, without actually creating jobs and inclusive growth. What we need really are people who are committed to the country, not hot money but in terms of investments to generate jobs and otherwise increase the productivity of the country," Belmonte said.
House Joint Resolution No. 1
Belmonte earlier filed House Joint Resolution No. 1, which seeks to amend the Constitution through the legislative route, as opposed to the 3 modes provided in the fundamental law: Constitutional Assembly, Constitutional Convention, or People's Initiative.
The Constitution does not expressly allow the legislative route to amend the Constitution, but it has been a method entertained by previous advocates.
The 1987 Constitution was drafted during the administration of the President Corazon Aquino. All succeeding presidents attempted to amend the Constitution but no one succeeded, mostly because of opposition from camps associated or allied with Aquino.
Attempts to amend the Constitution often evoked fear that the politicians would only want to lift term limits and perpetuate themselves in power. All other proposed amendments had been overshadowed by that single political proposal.
Recognizing these concerns, Belmonte vowed the changes will be limited to the economic provisions. He said he will not allow anyone from introducing other amendments.
"Supposing other congressman put in other provisions, definitely I'll try my best to discourage them from doing that if only to prove that we can act on an important subject without touching the more controversial portions of the Constitution, such as the form of government, such as the tenure of office, the term limits, and all of those other issues," Belmonte said.
Belmonte said he has been talking to senators about his initiative. – Rappler.com