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The time is right for Cha-Cha — Garbin

CHAIRMAN of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. assured business groups that the House will remain focused on important measures in the debate on Charter Change (Cha-Cha).

Responding to the concerns pointed out by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and the Makati Business Club (MBC), Garbin said the House of Representatives will see to it that pending measures will not be set aside.

Earlier, Garbin said the plenary debates on Cha-Cha, mainly on restrictive economic provisions, will begin by February.

“It is always the right time to do the right thing, especially when it comes to amending the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution,” Garbin said.

Some members of the business sector questioned the timing of moves to amend the Charter instead of prioritizing other economic bills.

“When you speak of the timing, it is the right time. I always say it’s always the right time to do the right thing and this is the right thing to do,” Garbin said.

He added that the House leadership expects deliberations this year, with the plebiscite to be conducted together with the 2022 national elections.

Garbin said fears of the PICC and MBC that the House would be distracted by efforts to change the Constitution were unfounded, citing the outstanding record of Congress in fast-tracking vital measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to need to stimulate the economy.

Prior to the global pandemic, both the PCCI and the MBC have submitted separate position papers in favor of lifting the restrictive economic provision of the Constitution, Garbin said.

“Aside from passing the first and second iterations of the Bayanihan laws and the prompt passage of the 2021 national budget, “ginawa na po namin yung sinasabi nilang mag-focus doon na lang sa trade liberalization. In fact po in-approve na namin on third reading, nasa Senado na. The Public Service Act is also in the Senate; we approved it already,” he said.

The Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE is now up for bicameral conference and is expected to be approved soon.

“ARISE (Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy), which will also stimulate the economy… tinapos na rin namin dito sa House of Representatives. So ano pa ba yung sinasabi nilang gawin namin?” he said.