Slim chance for Congress to okay new term for Noy

A TERM extension for President Benigno Aquino III is not on the congressional agenda at this time, House leaders said Wednesday.

After a group calling itself the Movement for Reform, Continuity, and Momentum (More2Come) made the call in a full-page advertisement in a natonal daily, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the President’s allies in the House were divided over the proposal to amend the Constitution to lift term limits for all elective officials, including the president.

“It won’t pass due to time constraints—and the numbers are uncertain,” said Belmonte, who has spearheaded an effort to amend only the economic provisions of the Constitution to encourage foreign investments in the Philippines.

The leader of the independent minority bloc, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, agreed saying there would be no time to debate the proposed changes to the Constitution even if a bill is filed in Congress.

Apart from attending to several priority measures, Romualdez said, many of the lawmakers will be busy attending to other matters as the 2016 national elections draw near, with the filing of certificates of candidacy beginning in October next year.

Romualdez, president of the Philippine Constitution Association, said the proponents of political charger change should stop pushing for another term for the President because it was “unpopular and too late in the day.”

Belmonte said after approving the 2015 national budget, the House will be gearing up for tough debates on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and emergency powers for President Aquino to address a potential power shortage next year.

But Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, a Liberal Party stalwart, said the clamor for Charter change was gaining ground, as evidenced by the call of the group More2Come.

He denied, however, that the LP was behind the paid advertisement.

In the advertisement, More2Come said Aquino is “still the best and only successor” and that Congress should transform itself into a constituent assembly to amend the Charter to allow for the President’s re-election.

The group said they will gather 8 million signatures to convince Aquino on the need for a second term.

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, who is pushing for political Charter change in the House, said he would not give up on his advocacy.

Erice earlier called on an LP meeting to decide on whether Presiden Aquino should seek another term.

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas slammed the More2Come adveritisement as a ploy by the administration to keep the President in power.

Rafael Mariano, KMP chairman, lambasted Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma for “concocting a bogus clamor” for another term for the President.

“Malacanang’s statements are clearly manipulative and deceptive. After disowning the paid ad, Coloma and Liberal Party stalwarts then moved to capitalize on the issue,” he said.

He said Coloma’s disavowals were “hard to believe.”

“Aquino and his spin doctors are obviously concocting a bogus clamor. They are paving the way for an Aquino dictatorship,” he said.

Senate Franklin Drilon acknowledged that Congress had less than two years to work on the amendments of the economic provisons of the Constitution, which he supports.

“I am sure that you, who are sitting there, would say that this is a tall order. Even rocket science could not figure out how this could all be done given the limited time,” said Drilon in his speech delivered in last Tuesday’s Philippine Bar Association and Law Day Celebrations at Intercontinental Manila in Makati City.

“We support the effort in the House of Representatives to push amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution phrase by inserting the “‘unless otherwise provided by law’, so we should be able to review our economic policies,” Drilon said. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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