‘Term-limit extension will kill Cha-cha initiative’

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Moves to lift term limits will kill a Cha-cha initiative meant to attract foreign investment, says House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II

MANILA, Philippines – Efforts by lawmakers to amend the constitution to allow an extension of term limits may jeopardize the possibility of any charter change.

House Majority Leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II said on Friday, July 12, that the proposal to introduce changes in the political provision could “kill our Cha-cha [charter change] initiative.” Charter changes his group is initiating are targeted at economic reforms that seek to attract more foreign direct investments (FDI).

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao Party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez filed a bill in the 16th Congress seeking to revise both economic and political provisions through a Constitutional Convention.

The brothers have proposed a shift in the system of government from a presidential to a federal form of government with a parliament whose members are given 4-year terms without limits on being re-elected.

Gonzales said this proposal will embolden critics to question the motives behind the Cha-cha initiative because accelerating economic gains becomes secondary to prolonging power.

The current charter imposes term limits per elective position. It also limits foreign ownership of a company to 40%, making it difficult for foreign investors to find someone who can shoulder a 60% domestic share.

Allies of President Benigno Aquino III such as House Speaker Feliciano ‘Sonny’ Belmonte find this constitutional provision  “restrictive” and have consequently filed a resolution seeking to amend it.

READ: Corruption and the foreign ownership rule

Palace unfazed

In a radio interview over dzRB on Friday, July 12, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte however said President Aquino’s position on the issue remains unchanged. He still opposes any move to amend the constitution.

“I asked the President if there had been any change in the position, in the same way that you guys would ask us, and the President’s response to me was, ‘My position has not changed,'” Valte said.

She added that only time will tell how the proposed measure will move forward.  

“Now, we have not reached the stage where there is really…something concrete that would show that it’s moving. Maybe we’ll answer that question when we actually face that situation,” Valte said.

She said lawmakers are free to push for the initiatives they deem necessary, adding that she cannot foresee Malacañang’s support for any lifting of term limits.

Valte is confident about a smooth-sailing relationship between the executive and the legislators, explaining that the Cha-cha discussions won’t affect the work expected of the two branches of government.

“Will it affect the relationship? This is not a new issue that has confronted both sides,” she said. – Rappler.com


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