MANILA - An ally of President Benigno Aquino III wants to start within the year the process of amending the charter's political provisions, including a proposed shift to a four-year presidential term with one re-election.
Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice is looking to follow the template laid down by the Charter change resolution of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., which is a resolution passed by both houses of Congress like a regular law and then subjected to a plebiscite.
Erice said he won't insert his proposed political amendments into Belmonte's Resolution of Both Houses 1 (RBH 1) currently pending in the Lower House plenary.
RBH 1 seeks to give Congress the power to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution by mere legislation.
Erice said he consulted his constituents in his district on the matter.
“Ninety percent of the leaders and sectoral groups, sinasabi nila maganda yung nangyayari ngayon compared sa mga nakaraan… Malaki ang tiwala nila sa Pangulong Aquino. Malaki inaasahan nila, gusto nila magpatuloy ang pamumuno… During a public consultation, nakausap ko leaders ng simbahan, Knights of Columbus, Rotary Clubs, barangay officials ng aking distrito, principals ng paaaralan, mga president and officer ng student councils of several colleges in my district, kasama rin Muslim community…”
Erice said he has yet to make nationwide consultations.
He said party leaders told him to wait for public clamor before touching on the charter's political provisions. "Hintayin muna na maging real at overwhelming yung clamor ng mamamayan bago ipasok ang resolution para sa pagbabago ng ilang political provisions."
Erice wants a 4-year term for the president, subject to one re-election, thus giving the president a maximum of 8 years in office.
Senators will have 3 terms of four years each.
Congressmen and local officials will likewise have 3 terms of 4 years each.
Erice believes there's time to do the amendments before the 2016 presidential elections.
Aside from this, he also wants to enshrine an anti-political dynasty provision and anti-political turncoatism provision.
Currently, Congress is deliberating on an anti-political dynasty bill, which Erice believes won’t pass since some 185 congressmen have more than one relative in public office.
He is proposing to limit the number of public officials in one family within the 2nd civil degree to two. The current bill allows only 1.
President Aquino drew the ire of critics after he expressed openness to charter change in a recent TV interview.
Last week, in his agency's budget hearing, Aquino ally and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas echoed the same.
Roxas and Aquino had both opposed charter change moves during the Arroyo administration.
Aquino's spokesman has since said he is not seeking a longer stint in the presidency.
For Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, this is not an assurance.
Zarate noted during last week's plenary debates on RBH 1, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, one of the sponsors, admitted amendments may be inserted during the bicameral conference committee phase of the bill.