Some lawmakers fear charter change talks would give way to term extension
Session Hall of the House of Representatives of the Philippines.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, File photo

Some lawmakers fear charter change talks would give way to term extension

(Philstar.com) - January 7, 2021 - 4:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — The leftist Makabayan bloc is not keen on holding on to the promise of congressional leaders that the renewed push for charter change will not lead to the extension of terms of politicians.

“It’s open season once debates on charter change start,” Rep. Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna party-list) said Thursday partly in Filipino. “That means any provision in the Constitution can be tackled. There will be no holds barred. It’s not true that it will only be limited to economic provisions.”

Talks on charter change will restart next week in the House upon the prodding of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque). 

Rep. Alfredo Garbin (AKO BICOL party-list), who chairs the House constitutional amendments panel, said Velasco directed him to tackle proposed amendments to “restrictive” economic provisions in the Constitution.

Garbin said that they would only be tackling proposals to liberalize the provisions in the Charter which restrict foreign investments, but the Makabayan bloc is not buying this.

“They’re just using changes to economic provisions as reasons, but what’s behind this is a push for political changes like term extensions and the lifting of term limits of politicians,” Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) said in Filipino.

Among the proposals which will be tackled by the House is by Velasco, who is pushing for Congress to convene into a constituent assembly, one of the modes to change the Constitution, and give the legislature the power to lift economic restrictions on foreign investments.

Velasco’s proposal does not include provisions for term extensions, but he has said that he is in favor of extending the terms of elected officials, even remarking that the three years allotted for lawmakers to sit in the House is “very short.” — Xave Gregorio

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