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House tackles Charter Change in February

THE plenary debates on Charter Change, focusing only on economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, will begin in the first week of February, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., the chairman of the House committee on Constitutional amendments, announced adding that the proposed Resolutions of Both Houses No.2 is gaining support from the members of the Lower Chamber.

Authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco RBH 2’s main purpose is to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

In a press briefing, Garbin said Congress has enough time to discuss Cha-Cha.

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez agreed with Garbin as he stressed that this year is the perfect time for economic Cha-Cha, which would help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in the years ahead.

Last week, members of the supermajority coalition in the House, led by Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, signed a manifesto of support for the approval of RBH No. 2, vowing to deliberate only on the economic provisions of the Constitution.

The manifesto also stated that the House of Representatives and the Senate shall vote separately on any amendment to be made to the Constitution.

Garbin added that there is a need to prepare the economy and the needed policy to send a positive signal to the international business community.

“We want to send the signal to the business community that we are now open and that the restrictive policy will be lifted,” he said.

Noting the urgency of opening up the economy, Garbin cited empirical data presented by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC) and World Bank indicating that the Philippines is on top of one of the most restrictive economies in the world.

The OECD data, he said, further states that countries with restrictive policies receive less foreign direct investments (FDIs) as compared to countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

In separate statement, Rodriguez disagreed with Senate President Vicente Sotto lll that Cha-Cha is “next to impossible” under the present Congress.

He said the proposal calls for just adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to those provisions so that Congress would have the power to alter the restrictions when the economic situation warrants.

Rodriguez welcomed Senator Sotto’s statement that the Senate may be open to considering Speaker Velasco’s limited economic amendment proposal provided the proper procedure is followed and no political change is considered.

“We are assuring him, his Senate colleagues and the people that no political amendment proposals will be tackled. We will limit this initiative to economic reform so it can succeed this year,” he said.

According to Sotto, if the Senate would agree to consider economic Cha-Cha, the two chambers should separately pass the Speaker’s amendment proposal as a constituent assembly, with each house obtaining three-fourths vote of all its members as required by the Constitution.

He added that the House is suggesting that the plebiscite be held simultaneously with the May 2022 national elections to save on cost.

Publication Source :    People's Journal