Solon wants Senate-House Lenten break meeting on Cha-cha pushed

Solon wants Senate-House Lenten break meeting on Cha-cha pushed

MANILA – Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte on Thursday maintained that unless the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution are amended, the country will never see the vibrant foreign investment being enjoyed by the Philippines’ neighboring economies.

Villafuerte made this remark as he proposed that a called-off meeting between the constitutional reform proponents in the two houses of Congress be pushed through during the Lenten break.

He said it is “to keep the ball rolling” on Charter change (Cha-cha) and to help lawmakers decide soon on whether to go ahead with amending the 36-year-old Constitution before the year ends.

He also suggested that senators led by Senator Robinhood Padilla, and members of the House of Representatives led by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez meet in an open session and not behind closed doors in the interest of full transparency.

Padilla, chair of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, earlier invited Rodriguez to attend the March 20 hearing of his panel to discuss the House-passed Resolution of Both Houses (RHB) 6 and House Bill (HB) 7325, aiming to initiate the process of reforming the 1987 Charter in the last quarter of 2023.

RHB 6 calls for a hybrid constitutional convention (con-con) to be composed of elected and appointed delegates to amend the Charter’s restrictive economic provisions, while HB 7325 is the implementing law for RHB 6.

The March 20 meeting, however, was called off after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the meeting must be held in an executive session because inviting congressmen as resource persons in a Senate committee hearing would supposedly breach the long-standing tradition of inter-parliamentary courtesy.

Padilla has proposed a meeting between his panel and his House counterpart to thresh out their conflicting modality on how to amend the Charter.

“We still have many things that we want to happen. The reason we can’t still adjourn (committee hearings), because we’re hoping that we’d be given permission to have a face-to-face discussion with our counterparts in the House,” he said.

Villafuerte said holding a meeting on RBH 6 and HB 7325 during the congressional recess would drive a sense of urgency for constitutional reform.

“We cannot hope to replicate the inrush of FDIs (foreign direct investments) to our more vibrant neighbors for so long as the country remains stuck with the antiquated economic provisions of our Constitution on restricted foreign participation in Philippine businesses that have put off investors,” Villafuerte said. “For as long as we do nothing to do away with the 40 percent cap on foreign ownership or participation in Philippine businesses, we will never see the much higher level of foreign investment streams in the country.”

He downplayed claims that the House is unduly rushing the constitutional amendments in lieu of priority measures beneficial to the majority of Filipinos, saying the push for Charter change has been there for the past three decades.

“This only goes to show that the clamor for constitutional reform has been long there and, more importantly, that what we have been doing in the House is to simply revitalize a legitimate, ever-growing cause,” he said. (PNA)

Leave a Reply