Padilla: Charter Change to unlock RCEP ‘benefits’, especially for farmers

Padilla: Charter Change to unlock RCEP ‘benefits’, especially for farmers

MANILA — Sen. Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla wants the benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to benefit Filipino farmers, even as he maintained amending the Constitution’s economic provisions should be the key to achieving this.

Padilla said that while RCEP — like earlier international trade agreements the Philippines entered into — may facilitate the entry of foreign goods, the entry of investments may be limited due to the Constitution’s 40% restriction on foreign investments.

“Kung binaha tayo ng produkto nila, bahain dapat tayo ng investment nila. Pinayagan natin sila magbaha ng produkto dito pero di kayo pwede mag-invest (If foreign goods enter the Philippines due to the RCEP, so should foreign investments. Yet we allow the entry of foreign goods but not so much on investments),” he said at a media forum in Manila.

“Paanong maging competitive tayo kung ang Constitution natin ay obsolete (How can we become competitive if our Constitution is obsolete)?” he added.

Also, Padilla voiced concerns that if RCEP is not properly implemented, it could have a similar effect on farmers as the Rice Tariffication Law, which allowed the importation of rice and allowed palay prices to drop.

Padilla is seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions to allow the entry of foreign investments, which are restricted to a maximum of 40%. In his Resolution of Both Houses No. 3, he proposed that this be done through a constituent assembly with members of the Senate and House of Representatives voting separately.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, he is planning public consultations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – including Baguio City, Cebu, and Davao City starting March 2 in Davao.

Meanwhile, Padilla maintained he favors a constituent assembly as the most practical way of amending the Charter’s economic provisions, with members of both houses of Congress voting separately.

“Ang constitutional convention, independent yan, hinahalal ng kababayan. Ang problema sa ngayon tulad ng sabi ni dating Chief Justice Puno, totoo ang sinabi niya — hindi natin control kung sino ang uupo. Baka mangyari diyan asawa ni congressman o pinsan ni senator o bata ni oligarch. Nag-aksaya tayo ng panahon, nag-aksaya tayo ng pera (A constitutional convention is independent, with delegates voted by the people. But as former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said, we cannot control who the delegates will be – they could be relatives of a sitting lawmaker or a dummy of an oligarch. If this happens, we may be wasting time and funds),” he said. (Amado Inigo/MTVN)

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