MANILA– Justifying the push for charter change (Cha-Cha), Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Sunday said opening up the economy to foreign investors is crucial in helping the country’s economy recover from the impact of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“As global economies slowly start to reopen, we cannot allow the Philippines to lag behind in terms of investments and opportunities. We need to seize the momentum if we are to fully recover from the economic devastation of Covid-19,”
Velasco defended the sudden interest of the administration-dominated lower chamber of Congress to amend the “restrictive” economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.
Velasco, widely known to be a protégé of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, also confirmed that he has instructed the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments to open Cha-Cha deliberations on amending the “restrictive” economic provisions in the Constitution as stated in Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2 which he filed back in July 2019.
“RBH 2 seeks to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution that prevent us from becoming fully competitive with our Asian neighbors,” the Speaker pointed out in a statement.
He justified that at the time of his filing of RBH 2, the Philippines was on its way to become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. But the pandemic somehow derailed the country’s advancing economy.
Under the said proposal, the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” will be included in the provision that reserves certain areas of investments to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations at least 60% of whose capital are owned by Filipinos.
Velasco said the addition of this phrase would allow Congress to enact laws to free up the economy to foreign investors, or maintain the status quo.
“The need to attract foreign capital is critical to support our economy’s recovery from Covid-19,” Velasco stressed.
He revealed that the lawmakers are aiming to finish the Cha-Cha deliberations before the end of 2021 and present it to the public for ratification during the 2022 national elections.
“Until then, we assure the public that the debates on RBH 2 will be transparent and fair,” Velasco promised.
But opposition lawmakers and critics have expressed apprehension that tinkering with the Constitution will be like opening the fabled “Pandora’s box” that may pave the way for the amendment of political provisions in the Constitution, allowing the term extension and the lifting of term limits for some elected officials.
For his part, House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chair Alfredo Garbin Jr., assured the public that the deliberations will focus only on the restrictive economic provisions.
The House panel deliberations are set to begin on Wednesday. (AI/MTVN)