Plebiscite for Charter Change can be held either 2015 or 2016 – Belmonte

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, June 5 (PNA) — Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., said he is now looking on the possibility to incorporate plebiscite with the 2016 Presidential elections without violating any law instead of spending a separate election next year.

Belmonte said that he is carefully studying to avoid a separate election which needs a big sum of money which we can use for other projects.

“Instead of having a separate plebiscite, nag-iisip ako how we can have it ride for instance in the next election. Baka it could be a — is it legal to just make it a question in the ballot box to be checked and so forth,” Belmonte told House reporters in a press conference.

Based on data gathered by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the highest turnout of voting population participating in a particular election is during presidential elections.

With this, he believes that “doing it that way it will be well discussed because a lot of people will be talking about it.”

The leadership is already anticipating that Cha-cha is almost a walk in the park and he can easily muster the needed three-forth votes to approved Charter Change.

However, when it reaches the Senate, that’s another story and he cannot speculate what will be the sentiments of the Senators.

“Senate President [Franklin] Drilon told me in our latest meeting that if the House can do it why can’t the do it?” Belmonte pointed out.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes in his last appearance before the House committee on Constitutional Amendments assured committee members that needed budget for the plebiscite is already incorporated in their budget request for 2015.

“Ganon ba. For 2015? Anyway it cannot be done in 2014 so kung merong money in 2015 then that would be good,” said Belmonte as he claims that the ideal date is 2015, saying that it needs to pass the scrutiny of the Senate.

When asked by reporters what cause the delay after they conducted marathon hearings, he said Davao City Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano is out of the country.

“Now if she is still out of the country by next week, I will allow the senior vice chairman to take his place to make Cha-cha moving,” Belmonte stressed.

“Let’s face it, the idea that we can do anything more with it other than pass it is out. If we pass this, this is for the benefit of the next administrations. Wala na kaming magagawa dito except to make it possible for them to have the elbow room to respond to a world event,” he added.

He even reminded that growth has shifted from the west to the east and investors are now interested to bring their money in Asia.

The veteran lawmaker explained that he had meetings organized by the European Union representatives here and of companies from the European Union. Another one he said, is that US based companies are also active in the ASEAN area and “a lot of them are very interested in it because what we want really is real investment.

“Hindi yung hot money that comes in and out and takes advantage of us cause when they go out they bring along profits. Gusto natin yung perang pag pumasok dito, naiiwan dito and I’m referring of course to foreign direct investments (FDIs) which would be creating jobs and also creating economic opportunities for the country,” he emphasized. (PNA)