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Gatchalian to oppose Charter change extending Pres, other officials

Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian is now having second thought on amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, saying this might serve as a trigger mechanism for the lifting of the term limits not only for the President but also for other elected officials.
“We could be treading on dangerous ground if we open the Constitution to amendments for economic provisions since there are also moves within the Lower House to include the lifting of the term limit for the President of the Republic,” said Gatchalian, a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition or NPC, which is part of the House majority.


“What will prevent LP congressmen from pushing for amendments to term limits of all elected officials if they are able to secure the lifting of the term limit for the President?,” he said.


Gatchalian’s statement was in reaction to reports that the ruling Liberal Party is divided on the issue of Charter Change, with one faction supporting amendments only to the economic provisions while another faction composed mostly of “LP originals” pushing for the lifting of the six-year term limit without any re-election for the President.


Gatchalian had earlier urged his colleagues in Congress to focus on revising the economic provisions of the Constitution rather than amending the charter to extend the president’s term limits, warning the latter can hurt the country’s opportunity for economic growth.


“Clearly, if the president’s allies will continue pushing for an extension of his term, it will derail efforts to attract foreign investments and create much-needed jobs, and ultimately damage the country’s economic prospects,” he said.


Gatchalian supports amending economic provisions but opposes lifting restrictions on foreign ownership of land, saying this will likely increase the conversion of agricultural lands to industrial and put farmers out of work.


“But with the aggressive moves of some LP congressmen to push for the lifting of the term limit for the President, I am now having second thought and might oppose Charter Change altogether for fear that not only the term limit for the President will be lifted but also for other elected officials,” Gatchalian said.


The 1987 Constitution provides for a term limit for all elective officials, with the Vice President and Senators having a two-term limit of six years each and congressmen and other local officials with a three-term limit if three years each.


“What we have now is a golden but narrow window of opportunity. The whole government must concentrate on accelerating its efforts for economic growth and poverty reduction, and spend less time on politicking. We should not use as hostage the economic provisions to give way to amendments of term limits,” Gatchalian concluded. (Monica Cantilero)