We should Cha-cha for the right reasons — Nograles

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — SPEAKER Prospero C. Nograles yesterday reiterated that any move to amend the Constitution does not include extending the term of incumbent elective officials, particularly that of the President, and the House will shun such proposals if and when Charter change would ever take place.

“We will never countenance a mockery of our people’s will. It is also the overwhelming sentiment of the dominant Lakas-CMD and its allies in the majority coalition to shun term extension of incumbent public officials under the guise of constitutional reforms,” declared Nograles, Lakas-CMD president.

Nograles surmised that some political detractors refuse to engage in mature, intelligent and civil public debate and, instead, in their desperation, have opted to persistently employ disinformation and fear campaigns to thwart opportunities for reforms.

“Under my watch, the primary precondition for any move to amend the Constitution is to exclude any proposal to extend the term of elective officials. If we want Cha-cha, we should do it for the right reasons,” Nograles said as he urged the people to participate and discern the wisdom behind the need for national reformation.

The House leader, who advocates a continuing public consultation on the matter of public governance and constitutional reforms, noted the strong public sentiment against term extension.

“We will surely listen to the true sentiment of our constituents. I will never join anyone, if any would, in presiding over the death of our democracy,” Nograles declared, insisting that “procrastination is the venom that kills opportunities to make things better for the country.”

One of the many who took the pain of submitting a report to the Speaker and to the House committee on constitutional amendments chaired by Rep. Victor Ortega on the series of consultations with district constituents was Rep. Manuel “Way Kurat” E. Zamora of the 1st district of Compostela Valley who said, among others, that majority of those he consulted “nixed the proposal to extend the terms of sitting public officials.”

“They are of the opinion that any amendment effecting to same should not benefit incumbent elected officials to erase any doubt that the move to amend the provisions of the Constitution is not self-serving for those seeking it,” Zamora reported.

Zamora added that an overwhelming number of those consulted are “in favor of changing by economic provisions on land ownership, mining and education to ensure that the Philippines remain globally competitive and help ease the widespread poverty by providing the necessary investments and opportunities for our people.”

Zamora further revealed that while around 20 percent of those consulted prefer constitutional convention as the mode to amend the Charter, the majority (about 80%) prefer amendments through a constituent assembly.

“The main reason given for such preference is the fact that a constitutional convention will entail huge government resources because of the election of delegates that could number more than 400 at two delegates per district,” Zamora said.

Given the limited time between now and the next national elections in 2010, Zamora added, electing and convening the members of the constitutional convention also appears to be impossible at this point.

“Most of them are convinced that delegating the sitting members of Philippine Congress would be more practical and logical,” Zamora said, adding that constituting the current Congress into a constituent assembly would ensure both members of the Senate and the House who are openly against term extension to make sure it won’t happen.

“We will even help them make sure there is no term extension for incumbent elected officials, and this includes the incumbent President whose preference is to re-enter the academe after 2010,” Zamora noted.