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âPhilippines imminent recovery best time for economic Cha-chaâ
House Deputy Speakers Rufus Rodriguez and Wes Gatchalian, Reps. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., Joey Salceda and Stella Quimbo all agreed that the government cannot afford any more delays if the Philippines wants to be at par with its Asian neighbors, at the very least.
STAR/Michael Varca, file

‘Philippines imminent recovery best time for economic Cha-cha’

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Now is the “best time” to introduce amendments to the prohibitive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, as the country has started to show signs of recovery from the global pandemic, leaders of the House of Representatives maintained yesterday.

House Deputy Speakers Rufus Rodriguez and Wes Gatchalian, Reps. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., Joey Salceda and Stella Quimbo all agreed that the government cannot afford any more delays if the Philippines wants to be at par with its Asian neighbors, at the very least.

“We might miss the boat if we follow Sen. Franklin Drilon’s suggestion. I am against his suggestion that we delay working on it by almost two years. I believe that this year is the best time to approve the proposal of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco,” Rodriguez stressed.

“We are really behind our ASEAN neighbors. For me, the definition of timing is very subjective. There is no other best time but now,” Gatchalian, a congressman from Valenzuela who used to head the House committee on trade and industry, said.

Barzaga, president of the National Unity Party comprising about 60 House members, noted that some foreign firms easily get around the prohibition on foreign ownership by resorting to “dummying.”

“Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and even some German companies are here doing business with us. And they have been complaining to us: We cannot acquire properties where we are operating our business,” the Dasmariñas City congressman related.

“In Japan, they are actually very strict in using dummies. And they have always been complaining to us local officials. They keep saying the problem is that our laws are too restrictive with regard to land ownership, that’s why they can’t invest here,” Barzaga said.

Salceda, chairman of the House ways and means committee, expressed belief “there is time” for introducing changes in the Charter. “January is too early a time to be thinking of the filing of certificates of candidacy. Even then, should government ever stop governing two years before the election?”

“We are just halfway through our three-year terms as members of Congress. We’re still on the right time,” Salceda, former socioeconomic chief, said.

Quimbo, another resident-economist in the chamber, maintained that “domestic capital is really not sufficient.”

“We have to create jobs that were lost due to the pandemic. We need to relax our rules. Yes, I agree that now is the not the time to do it. It should have been yesterday. This is a necessary step. We owe this to our countrymen,” the Marikina congresswoman said.

Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, agreed.

“There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing,” Garbin, of the Ako Bicol party-list, said.

CHARTER CHANGE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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