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House bill pushes for Cha-cha to change PHL form of govt

Another bill has been filed at the House of Representatives seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution, this time proposing both political and economic changes to the Charter through a constitutional convention (con-con).
On Thursday, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and ABANTE MINDANAO Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. filed House Bill (H.B.) 1343 pushing for Charter change (Cha-cha) and for the election of delegates to the con-con in October to coincide with the barangay polls.
"Now is the perfect time to push for a constitutional convention given that the businessmen and the people have full trust and confidence in President Benigno S. Aquino III. The people can see the President as someone who will pursue Charter change without any political agenda," the lawmakers said in the measure.

The proposal is different from the Cha-cha push made by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday, which suggested amending the 1987 Constitution through separate votings by the Senate and the House, with a three-fourths vote required from both chambers.

H.B. 1343 also proposes political amendments to the country's Charter, contrary to Belmonte's resolution which only pushes for changes in the 1987 Constitution's economic provisions.

Belmonte particularly wants to amend the following articles of the 1987 Constitution: Article II or the declaration of state principles and policies, Article XII on national economy and patrimony, and Article XVI which contains sections on foreign ownership.
"In the light of expanding global demands and the present economic and political realities, there is a most urgent need to address economic and political areas which have been widely recognized as prime sources of the nation’s difficulties," the Rodriguez brothers said in their bill.
Political amendments
In particular, H.B. 13423 wants to change the Philippines' system of government from unitary to federal. A federal system of government divides the government's powers between the national and the local government units. 
The bill also pushes for the shift from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government, which is headed by a prime minister directly accountable to the legislature.
The proposed legislation likewise seeks to allow local officials and members of Congress, who will become members of parliament, to have four-year terms of office "without term limits."
Aside from these, the measure also advocates the shift from the present bicameral Congress, which is composed of the House and the Senate, to a unicameral legislature.

Economic amendments
Unlike Belmonte's resolution, which just seeks to empower Congress to pass bills on foreign ownership, H.B. 1343 was more specific in proposing amendments to economic provisions of the Constitution.
The measure seeks to lift "all nationality requirements in the exploration and utilization of all natural resources, all areas of investments, all public utilities, all educational institutions, and all fields of mass media and advertising."
The measure, however, wants the ownership of land in the Philippines to "remain exclusively to Filipinos" until all farm lots have been distributed to farmer-beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
In his Cha-cha proposal, Belmonte only inserted the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" to certain portions of the current Constitution.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II earlier explained that the insertion of this phrase will enable Congress to freely pass new laws on matters as such foreign ownership of land, educational institutions and media organizations in the country.

Bill vs Cha-cha
On Wednesday, militant party-list lawmakers also filed a bill that opposes all moves to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said Cha-cha moves do not guarantee economic progress, and may give Congress the chance to abolish term limits.
Malacañang opposes the introduction of changes to the 1987 Constitution, which was enacted during the administration of the President's mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.

Moves to amend the 1987 Constitution have been pushed since the administration of President Fidel Ramos, but none of these attempts have prospered so far due to the same fears of extended terms of office for incumbent politicians. — RSJ, GMA News