MANILA, Philippines – Old age may help push Charter change (Cha-cha) this time around, according to House Majority Floor leader Rep. Neptali Gonzales.
Despite President Aquino's lukewarm attitude towards Charter change, Gonzales is still hopeful that Aquino will give them a chance to be heard and exchange views on the matter, especially since the the leaders of both houses of Congress--Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte--are too old to have a hidden political agenda.
“I think never in our history magkakaroon ulit tayo ng ganitong pagkakataon na talagang objectively, pwede nating pagusapan ang amendments sa Constitution. Why? We have a President na palagay ko talagang pinagkakatiwalaan ng tao, at hindi naglalaway na palawigin ang kanyang panunungkulan," he told dzMM on Tuesday.
"We have a Senate president na 80+ na, si Manong Johnny [Enrile], at talagang wala nang ambisyon itong maging prime minister, maging presidente. We have a Speaker of the House [Feliciano Belmonte] na ganun din, 75 years old."
Gonzales said Enrile and Belmonte will discuss with the President their proposal to amend the 1987 Constitution.
“Sila naman can very well represent both houses of Congress. Ang akin lang, as soon as possible, kung susundin mo yung time frame, the earlier the better para naman malaman natin kung may pagasa pa,” Gonzales said.
Amending the charter is not a priority of the Aquino administration. Earlier this month, Aquino was quoted as stating that changing the Constitution might derail economic progress.
Gonzales, however, believes that Charter change still has a chance since Aquino is still a politician who must listen to his political allies.
“Ang katotohanan niyan, the president is also a political leader. Kung manindigan siya ayaw niya talaga, [pero] hindi malayo na kakausapin din niya kapartido niya,” he said.
On Monday, during the opening of the 3rd session of the 15th Congress, Enrile and Belmonte urged their colleagues to take up the issue of Charter Change.
Efforts to change the 1987 Constitution during the Ramos and Arroyo administration failed due to widespread opposition from various sectors. -- with dzMM