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Now is ‘perfect time’ for Cha-Cha — solon

DEPUTY Speaker and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said now is the perfect time to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Rodriguez, the former chairman of the House committee on Constitutional amendments, stressed the needed reforms in the economic status of the country as he expressed opposition to the proposed postponement of Charter Change.

Likewise, Rodriguez said, there is there is enough time this year for the House and the Senate “to work on Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s simple five-word amendment proposal.”

“The House (is) first to act as a Constituent Assembly and approve the economic amendments by 3/4 votes of all its Members. Then the Senate, as a Constituent Assembly, will either reject them or approve them also by 3/4 votes. The Constitution does not require a joint session,” the solon said.

Earlier Sen. Franklin Drilon urged the House of Representatives to postpone its economic Cha-Cha (Charter change) push to the latter part of 2022.

According to Rodriguez, this year is the best time to approve the proposal of Speaker Velasco for the addition of the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the Charter’s restrictive economic provisions.

This means that the present limitations will remain but Congress would have the power to alter them to allow for more foreign investor participation in business if the country’s economic situation warrants it, Rodriguez added.

He also said that if the House and the Senate approve the Speaker’s proposal and voters ratify it in a plebiscite to be conducted simultaneously with the May 2022 elections, Congress would already have the power in the latter part of next year to change the restrictions to attract more foreign investments.

He pointed out that due to the deep contraction the health crisis has wrought on the economy, many economists are projecting that the country would only start attaining pre-pandemic growth next year or in 2023.

“So by that time, the constitutional economic reform the Speaker and the House envision should already be in place to help speed up our recovery from this crippling pandemic. We might miss the boat if we follow Sen. Drilon’s suggestion,” he stressed.

Drilon has said he was not against economic Cha-Cha, but that the present Congress does not have the time to tackle it and should just leave it to the next Congress, which will be elected in May next year and will convene three months later in July.