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NEWS UPDATES 4 June 2009

Philippine House approves resolution to rewrite charter

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Philippine lawmakers have passed a resolution to re-write the constitution, a move critics said Wednesday is aimed at giving outgoing President Gloria Arroyo another term in power, reported AFP.

However, it still needs the approval of the Senate, which is dominated by her opponents.

The resolution cleared the first hurdle after it was passed by the House of Representatives, which is full of Arroyo allies, following a marathon session late on Tuesday.

The constitution, written in 1987, limits presidents to one six-year term in office.

"It's impossible for them to do it without the Senate," said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, labelling the measure an "exercise in futility."

The Philippines is due to hold a presidential election next May to choose a successor to Arroyo.

Arroyo allies have been pressing to re-write the constitution for months -- purportedly to make the economy more competitive by easing rules on foreign ownership in certain sectors.

But critics charge it is a ploy to extend Arroyo's stay in office.

The influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) joined the attacks on the move.

"It’s like they are betraying the people. When power corrupts, it corrupts absolutely," said Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the CBCP.

About 200 leftist activists staged a rally at the House of Representatives to protest the efforts to rewrite the constitution.

The debate over the resolution meanwhile could delay the passage of crucial revenue measures, Dow Jones newswires reported.


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