MANILA, July 8, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Louis Bacani - More than 1,000 proposed laws have already been filed at the House of Representatives a few weeks before the 16th Congress opens on July 22.

The House of Representatives Plenary Affairs Bureau opened its windows on Monday to accommodate lawmakers or their representatives who filed bills and resolutions on various vital issues and policy reforms.

As of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, 1,093 House Bills and 31 House Resolutions have already been filed.

At 6 p.m. last Monday, some 826 bills of national and local scope, 25 House Resolutions, one Concurrent Resolution and one House Joint Resolution were officially received and numbered.

Newly-elected congressmen assumed office last Monday, July 1.

The proposed measures would be transmitted by the Office of the Secretary General to the Committee on Rules following its reconstitution when the next Congress opens.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. was elated over the "enthusiasm shown by congressmen" at filing their pet measures in anticipation of the opening of the Congress.

"If the long queue on Monday was indicative of the enthusiasm of my peers to participate actively in quality legislation, it must be a very promising start. Who knows, it may even make this 16th Congress surpass the achievements of its predecessor," Belmonte said.

Belmonte reported last month that in the 15th Congress, some 447 laws out of 1,023 measures reported out by House committees and approved on third reading were enacted into law.

Palace: Cha-cha dead during P-Noy’s term By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 7, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - For the nth and probably the last time, President Aquino said yesterday any effort to have the Constitution amended during his administration is dead.

In an interview over radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said there is no solid justification for constitutional amendments – even a limited one – under the current administration.

While the previous administration had been preoccupied with changing the Constitution purportedly to make it more investor-friendly, the Aquino leadership sees no need for such an initiative.

“This is the question that the President has always asked: What would be the detriment to the country if we do not move for Cha-cha (Charter change) now, at this time? What is the pressing need and until this day, no one has answered that (question) to the President,” Valte said.

“Is there a clear and present danger to be faced if we do not amend the Charter now? So that is the question in the mind of the President and until now, no one has given clear reasons or clear answers to that question,” Valte said.

Until such time that a satisfactory answer to the President’s question is proffered, Valte said Charter change would not be on government’s priority list.

She said she had no update on a study on Constitutional amendments supposedly commissioned by Aquino but stressed that discussions on the issue had not progressed because of unanswered questions.

She said the President’s position was not even based on concerns that the issue might be devisive or might be taken advantage of by some politicians who want to prolong their stay in power.

“We’ve managed to get along this point without amending the Charter. And if we are going to talk about economic progress, the numbers are there,” Valte said, apparently referring to the high economic growth posted in the last three years.

Valte said the experiences of other countries could also be used, as some of them had achieved economic growth and managed to attract foreign direct investments without allowing foreign ownership of their lands or lifting other restrictions.

As regards term extension, the President said he was not inclined to remain in office after 2016.

During the past Ramos and Arroyo administrations, Charter change was seen as a move to prolong the term of the president and other elective officials.

“You know when we discuss this with the President, we also don’t reach that point because no one has answered so far the very first question of the President. Why do we need to do this at this time? What is the adverse effect if we don’t do it? What is the urgency? That’s it,” Valte said.

“Somebody has to justify the urgency to him, why it has to be done at this time. Because nobody has been able to answer why there is a pressing need, why there is an urgency to do it now, the discussion does not really progress... There are maybe other things that may happen down the road. So we are not able to get there... we really stop on the pressing need,” Valte said.

Thirteen business groups – including the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Makati Business Club and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines – made public their call for Aquino to consider amending restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to attract more investors.

The other business groups calling for Charter change are the Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Management Association of the Philippines, American Chamber of Commerce, Australian New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, European Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Korean Chamber of Commerce and Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc.

Leaders of Congress and other lawmakers had also tried but failed to convince Aquino to push for Constitutional changes.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Friday said that what businessmen really want is a level playing field with simple rules and without corruption.

“What business really wants is a predictable environment, an environment where rules and regulations do not change midstream, and that is more important to business rather than constitutional change,” Lacierda said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved