MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Independent Minority Bloc of the House of Representatives on Thursday welcomed the decision of Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr. to sign in the manifesto, which states that a lawmaker would voluntary expel himself as member of the 16th Congress if political amendments are inserted in the ongoing “economic” Charter Change (Cha-cha) initiative.
“Speaker Belmonte has already signed the pledge to the Filipino people and we are very much elated with the gesture,” said Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, a member of the bloc. led by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.
Asked if their group would continue to solicit support from their colleagues, Atienza said there is no need because the Speaker represents the majority of members of the 16th Congress.
“This we think reflected the sentiment of the majority. The Speaker is the representative of the majority,” Atienza said as he trumpeted the signing made by Belmonte in the manifesto.
When reached for comment, Belmonte said the manifesto of the independent minority bloc is worthy of his support to ensure that only economic revisions would be introduced in Cha-cha initiative.
“We have to show that we are sincere that only some economic revisions would be introduced,” Belmonte told reporters after the announcement was made by Atienza.
The pledge states: “We, the members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, make this pledge to the people of the Philippines to only tackle ECONOMIC PROVISIONS of the Constitution as we move towards charter change. We will not touch POLITICAL PROVISIONS, especially the extension of terms of incumbent officials and the lifting of term limits. We submit ourselves for expulsion from Congress should this pledge be violated.”
The House leadership will prioritize the passage of Resolution of Both Houses 1 when Congress resumes session on May 5 from a two-month Lenten break.
Belmonte’s proposal will subject the proposed amendments to the Constitution through ordinary legislative process by getting the constitutional requirement of three-fourths vote, with the Senate and the House of Representatives voting separately.
Article XVII, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that any amendment to, or revision of the Constitution may be proposed by Congress “upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.”
Since it does not specifically require Congress to sit jointly in exercising its constituent powers, Belmonte and the other proponents of RBH 1 believe that the amendment can be undertaken through a three-fourths vote of all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate even without jointly convening.
RBH 1 is geared towards removing the 60-40 percent Filipino-foreign investor equity limitations as well as allowing foreigners to own up to 100 percent of land and businesses.
The measure seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in specific areas of the Constitution: natural resources, foreign ownership of land, media, education and advertising. (MNS)