House girds for war over Cha-cha

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2014 05:39 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2014 03:19 AM

MANILA - Lawmakers are set to clash over House Speaker Sonny Belmonte's resolution that seeks to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said the House Independent Minority bloc is supporting the measure even as progressive lawmakers vow to oppose any attempt to remove protectionist policies in the Constitution.

The House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments will take up the measure on Tuesday.

In a statement, Romualdez said the independent bloc is
supporting the call of the House leadership to amend the 1987 Constitution "as long as it will not touch any provisions which will extend terms of the current elected officials."

The congressman also said the constitutional amendments should include the requirement of the Bangsamoro peace agreement.

"We call upon the House leadership to first demand an official copy of the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for immediate deliberations before they think about Charter change. Mas maganda may hawak nang kopya para pag tinake-up ang resolution, ipasok ang Bangsamoro para di suspect pagkapasok natin," he said.

His ally, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, said he wants a constitutional convention to handle the amendments to the Constitution.

He warned that Belmonte's advocacy may end up giving rise to multiple amendments.

Dela Cruz also said the Constitution is not the only thing needed to attract foreign investments, which has been Belmonte's justification for pursuing the amendment.

Separately, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap said the House leadership can expect a political showdown tomorrow over the country's national economy, patrimony and sovereignty at all cost.

Hicap said farmers and workers will oppose attempts to remove the remaining protectionist policies of the 1987 Constitution for the interest and benefit of foreign investors and businesses.

"Farmers will particularly oppose the 100% ownership of lands by agri-business transnational corporations. Workers will oppose the insertion of the phrase 'unless otherwise provided by law' into the provision of the Philippine Constitution on the 40-per cent limit to foreign ownership and into other provisions, will open up the country to greater control by big foreign capitalists," he said.

He added: "Cha-cha did not prosper during the terms of former presidents Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo. We will make sure that it will suffer the same fate under the Aquino administration."

Hicap authored House Resolution No. 13 opposing Charter change attempts of the government that will remove restrictions against foreign ownership of lands and foreign military bases, troops and facilities in the Philippines.