The proposal to rewrite the Charter’s economic provisions to scrap foreign ownership restrictions of land and businesses were among those that received popular support.
House panel votes on Cha-cha on Wednesday
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The committee on constitutional amendments of the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on several Charter change (Cha-cha) proposals on Wednesday.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, committee chairman, is convening his panel after its public consultations in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao on proposed amendments to the Constitution were concluded.     

“We will make a decision on proposals for which the people have expressed support in our consultations and public hearings,” he said.

The proposal to rewrite the Charter’s economic provisions to scrap foreign ownership restrictions of land and businesses were among those that received popular support.

Also getting the strong support were the proposals to increase the terms of office for all local government officials and district representatives, the election of senators by region and the election of the president and vice president in tandem.

Rodriguez said lifting foreign ownership or equity restrictions “will address the high rate of unemployment in the country.”

“Economic Cha-cha aims to lift the limitations on foreign investments in public utilities and the development in natural resources in order to have more employment for Filipinos. The Philippines is lagging behind its ASEAN neighbors in the amount of foreign direct investments,” he pointed out.

Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Rodriguez are among the authors of economic Cha-cha proposals.

On increasing the terms of office for local officers and district representatives, Rodriguez said the five-year term gained popularity “because three years is too short for these officials to implement their programs and projects.”

There is also strong support to elect senators on a per-region basis to ensure that all of the country’s regions will be represented in the Senate and assure development in the countryside.

As for the proposed election of the president and vice president as one team, which is part of his Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, he said that a vote for the president should be a vote for his runningmate, which is also being practiced in the US.

“In our public consultations, there is a general consensus in favor of this amendment to ensure a united leadership in the executive branch of government,” Rodriguez said, pointing out that this would avoid divisiveness and conflict between the top two officials of the country.

Under the present setup, Vice President Leni Robredo heads the political opposition that has been critical of the Duterte administration.

Rodriguez’s committee will most likely not vote on the proposal to shift the nation to the federal system, which the Mindanao lawmaker said is still “a hotly debated and divisive issue.”

“We will vote on the popular and less controversial proposals,” he said.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who is pushing for a longer term for local officials, has asked senators to be open to the Cha-cha initiatives of House members.

“If senators say we don’t want Charter change, that would be the end of it. But we are hoping senators will be open-minded to it,” he said.

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