Cha-cha backers allay term-extension fears

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SIGNATORIES of the two separate Charter change (Cha-cha) resolutions yesterday allayed public fears, including the so-called presidentiables, that term extension of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other incumbent officials is among the agenda of the renewed moves to amend the Constitution.

Speaker Prospero “Boy” Nograles Jr. and Presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo dispelled as a mere “intrigue” allegations that the fresh move to push Charter amendments are aimed at aiding President Arroyo to perpetuate in power beyond June 2010.

Nograles stressed that his House Resolution 737 signed by at least 163 lawmakers is seeking a specific amendment to Sections 2 and 3, Article 12 of the Constitution to allow foreigners to own land in the country.

“There is no term extension, it is only for economic provision,” Nograles said who is banking on the constitutional provision allowing amendments using a vote of three-fourths of all members of Congress or 175 of total 236 House members.

However, critics are threatening to raise a legal question in Supreme Court since the constitutional provision does not specifically mention that the voting by the House of Representatives and Senate would be done separately or jointly.

In a separate resolution calling Congress to convene into a Constituent Assembly to propose Charter amendments signed by at least 150 lawmakers, Arroyo admitted signing the proposal where he claimed that Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte is the one handling the signature drive.

“This is the same paper that circulated during the time of former Speaker (Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia, Jr.). And one more thing, there is no term extension there, zero po talaga,” Arroyo said in a text message.

Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano III stressed that there is a constitutional provision barring lawmakers to benefit from the results of their any legislative actions.

But Citizens Battle Against Corruption Rep. Joel Villanueva said such constitutional provision could be ignored since the objective of Charter amendments is to overhaul the Constitution.