LP expects 'passionate' meeting on charter change

MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party (LP) plans to meet to clarify President Benigno Aquino III's stance on charter change, a meeting foreseen to be "passionate and animated."

On Friday, August 22, Budget Secretary and LP stalwart Florencio Abad, who suggested holding the meeting, told Rappler he does not think the meeting will be "heated" but agreed there would be an intense exchange of ideas given the seriousness of the topic.

"To amend the charter, whether for economic or political purposes or both, is a fundamental decision not just for a party in power but for a society. It is about revisiting the basic legal framework of a society whose main reason for being is to circumscribe the vast powers of government. That requires serious deliberation," Abad told Rappler in a text message.

LP officials are also expected to discuss whether there are compelling reasons for charter change.

 

"If there is sufficient ground to justify a reconsideration of the President's position on charter change, we need first to understand what is driving it and in what direction it should proceed," he said.

While there is no set date for the meeting for now, Abad anticipates sideline discussions regarding the topic and said there will likely be "caucuses among members sharing the same views in preparation for that meeting."

A day earlier, Drilon told reporters he endorsed the call of Abad to hold a meeting to “put the issue to rest.”

[Ang meeting ay] para liwanagin na talagang ang sabi nga ng Pangulo ay hindi naman siya interesado sa second term, hindi siya interesado doon sa pag-amiyenda ng Saligang Batas during his term. Para matapos na itong usaping ito,” he said.

(The meeting is to clarify that what the President actually said is he is not interested in a second term, he is not interested in amending the Constitution during his term, so this issue can finally be put to rest).

Drilon also said there have been no talks on pushing for charter change, and that Malacañang itself has said “the President is not interested in amending the Constitution during his term.”

In an interview on TV5 last week, Aquino said he will listen to the voice of the people regarding an extended term, but said it does not mean he will pursue it. Currently, the Constitution bars the re-election of a president after one 6-year term.

In the same interview, the President also said while he was against charter change in the past, he changed his position after recent events made him think the judiciary abuses its judicial reach, and there may be a need to balance the 3 branches of government properly through constitutional amendments.

He acknowledged, however, that charter change would mean entering dangerous territory, because while there are provisions “that could be fine-tuned and updated,” he said he's concerned “that the good provisions can get diluted.” – Rappler.com