Nationalist People's Coalition Opposes Constituent Assembly

Article excerpt

The 28-member Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) will not join the Charter change train for a Constituent Assembly (Con Ass) that has started to move in the House of Representatives although its leaders declared that a Constitutional Convention (Con Con) after 2010 may get the party's backing.

This developed as Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo, eldest son of President Arroyo, vehemently denied he was behind the revived Charter change bid in the House, saying that it is Speaker Prospero Nograles who is pursuing it.

Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra said he has proposed the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention. The election may be held simultaneously with the 2010 national elections.

Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, another NPC stalwart, said the party's position against Charter amendments via Constituent Assembly had been made clear during the recent hearing on the issue that was conducted by the House Committee on Constitutional Reforms.

Aggabao said the 28 NPC congressmen are expected to follow the party stand.

Also registering its objection to Charter amendments via Constituent Assembly is the 22-man minority bloc in the House.

Earlier, Speaker Nograles had revealed that 163 members of the House majority bloc have affixed their signatures as co-authors of a resolution pursuing amendments of the economic provisions of the Constitution.

While Nograles did not state the mode of amendment as reflected in the proposed resolution, it was clear that signature campaign was aimed at getting the nod of three-fourths of the members of the 238man chamber.

The support of three- fourths of the members of the House of Representatives is clearly headed towards the convening of a Constituent Assembly, observers said.

Mitra revealed that an earlier resolution calling for Constituent Assembly was passed around but failed to get the backing of 18 NPC members.

"I believe a Constitutional Convention after 2010 is the better option for Charter change," Mitra said.

Congressman Arroyo said Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte and Nograles are in a better position to explain the new signature campaign on Charter amendments, stressing that he has not lobbied for it.

Nograles said yesterday there will never be a term extension in the event of Charter change.

"There is no existing resolution that seeks to extend anybody's term, including the President and Vice President, and congressmen and senators. None whatsoever," he said.

Nograles is the author of House Resolution 737, which seeks to amend Sections 2 and 3, Article 12 of the 1987 Constitution to allow 100-percent foreign ownership of lands.

Expressing her disbelief that the new attempt to convene a Constituent Assembly doesn't include term extension, Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros called on President Arroyo to chide presidential son and Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo and other pro-administration allies for fueling fears that the current administration will stay beyond 2010.

"GMA should do this if she is truly serious about stepping down in 2010," she said.

"Even if term extension is not included in the new resolution to convene a Constituent Assembly, it is obviously in the bag. There is no limit to what a Constituent Assembly can do," she said. (with a report by Edmer Panesa)

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