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Prime mover tells senators: Filipinos need Cha-Cha

THE chairman of the committee that will handle Charter Change appealed to the senators to keep an open mind on the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution that need to be amended.

In a statement, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo GArbin Jr., chairman of the House committee on Constitutional Change, said the minor tweaking of the Constitution’s economic provisions would attract foreign investments.

“It’s long overdue. The support and the clamor is there. The introduction of the phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ in those restrictive provisions, as proposed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, will give Congress the flexibility and leeway to alter the restrictions when the economic situation requires it,” Garbin said.

According to the solon, the slight change in the Charter’s language “will improve the investment climate and generate much needed investments and jobs to counteract the economic contraction caused by the pandemic.”

“For the first time in the 33-year history of our Constitution, we in the House see that economic Cha-Cha can succeed, if only our counterparts in the Senate will keep an open mind on it and agree to consider relevant proposals from us and from their own colleagues,” he said.

On Wednesday, the panel is set to resume its discussion on Charter Change but will only focus on the economic provisions as instructed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

In the Senate, Senators Ronald dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino who called for Charter Change.

Garbin sought to allay fears expressed by some senators that if they agree to economic Cha-Cha, that might open the Charter to wholesale amendments that could lead to extending the term of office of incumbent elective officials and lifting of the term limits.

“We are not proposing to open the basic law of the land to revisions. We want to limit ourselves to provisions relating to the economy and national patrimony. We will not touch the political sections of the Charter,” he said.

He pointed out that Speaker Velasco has given the commitment that the House would confine itself to economic Cha-Cha

He said the insertion of the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the economic provisions “means that the present limitations will remain, but Congress would be empowered to relax or lift them in the future, depending on the country’s economic situation, to draw more foreign investments that will generate jobs and income for our people.”

“Because of the extensive damage the health crisis that is still raging has caused on our economy, we will need foreign funds to recover from the pandemic in the next two-three years,” Garbin said.

He added that economists are projecting that due to the deep economic contraction that it has suffered, the country would begin to achieve positive growth only in 2022.