Palace shoots down 'Cha-cha'
MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino shot down on Thursday, July 12, fresh attempts to push Charter change (Cha-cha) to lift the constitutional limits on foreign ownership. He said it is not his priority.
"I'm not so sure it's the right route to take (Hindi ako ganoon ka-sure kung 'yan talaga ang tamang ruta)," President Aquino told reporters on Thursday, July 12.
"The Americans have a saying: Don't fix what ain't broke. Even with the present Constitution, I believe we are capable of reaching the economic heights we want (So mayroong kasabihan 'yung mga Amerikano, as an example, "Don't fix what ain't broke.")," the President said.
"Changing the constitution changes the rules of the game, which might delay the progress," he added.
Charter change has big backers: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte. For months, the two leaders have been holding advanced talks on bills filed to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Both have been very vocal about their plans.
Belmonte said they want to convene a Constituent Assembly, where the Senate and the House of Representatives can vote separately to approve amendments.
Through this mode, a three-fourths vote of members of Congress is required to approve constitutional amendments.
“The Senate President said yes [he will talk to fellow senators to approve it]. But we don’t care about [the Senate]. It will be approved here (House of Representatives) because we are hoping to have far-reaching change,” Belmonte told reporters on Wednesday, July 11.
Enrile and Belmonte claim that the constitutional limit on foreign ownership is discouraging foreign investors. The Constitution allows foreign corporations or foreign investors to own only a maximum of 40% of a company based in the Philippines. Enrile had warned that foreign corporations have been going around the constitutional limits by using dummy corporations.
Aquino willing to listen
Belmonte, a member of President Aquino's Liberal Party (LP), said he will talk to President Aquino before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23. A number of LP senators and representatives, including Sen Frank Drilon, have been supportive of the Charter-change proposals. But many of them concede they need the support of the President.
Aquino said he is willing to listen to the advocates of Charter change.
"That has to be discussed really thoroughly. What is the basis? What is the proof that such a move will redound to the benefit of our people," he said.
President Aquino was asked during the 2010 campaign about Charter change. He said he would create a study group to see if it is necessary.
Belmonte gave assurances that amendments to the Constitution would be limited to the economic provisions of the constitution.
But President Aquino is concerned. "There's a theory that if you open the Constitution to amendments, you cannot limit it. It open to all possibilities (Mayroon theory kasi pag binuksan mo 'yung Constitution sa amendments hindimo pwedeng i-limit. Nakabukas na lahat)," Aquino said.
The past 3 Philippine -- Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo -- tried to change the Constitution, but they were met with strong opposition from the Catholic Church and civil society. Cha-cha had always been seen as an attempt to extend the term of incumbent government officials.
President Aquino has said he has no plans to extend his term. - Rappler.com