House eyes plenary debates on Charter change in February
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco presides over the House of Representatives' session on December 15.

House eyes plenary debates on Charter change in February

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - January 20, 2021 - 1:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — The House constitutional amendments committee wants to wrap up its deliberations on proposed changes to the Charter soon so it can send the proposals for discussions in plenary by February.

Rep. Alfredo Garbin (AKO BICOL party-list), who chairs the panel, told a news conference that he is eyeing plenary debates on the proposal of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to amend the Constitution’s “restrictive” economic provisions in the first week of February.

“We still have one to two hearings in the committee and we’ll come out with the committee report which would exclusively deal with the economic provisions,” Garbin said Wednesday.

Garbin previously told Philstar.com that his panel will still hold two to three hearings before they approve of Velasco’s proposal, which has earned the backing of major political blocs in the House.

Velasco’s proposal seeks to allow Congress to lift the constitutional restrictions on foreign investments in land, natural resources, public utilities, educational institutions, media and advertising.

He wants this done by inserting the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the provisions, which would give Congress the leeway to pass laws to change the constitutional requirements.

Business groups are supportive of amending the Constitution to liberalize its economic provisions, but are wary over its timing, given that the country is still facing the economic fallout due to the pandemic and that the proposal to change the Charter comes just 15 months before Filipinos select a new set of leaders.

But for Garbin, now is the time to introduce amendments to the Constitution.

“It’s always the right time to do the right thing,” he said. “We want to send a signal to the business community that we are now open and that the restrictive policy will be lifted.”

House members have repeatedly said that they would only propose changes to economic provisions, but political observers are wary that any move to tinker with the Constitution would open the floodgates to any kind of amendments, including those that would benefit lawmakers such as term extensions or lifting of term limits.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 2, 2021 - 1:01pm

Bookmark this page for updates on the Duterte administration's attempt to restart discussions on charter change. Main image by The STAR/Boy Santos

February 2, 2021 - 1:01pm

The House constitutional amendments committee approves in a 62-3-3 vote the proposal to amend "restrictive" provisions in the Constitution. — Xave Gregorio

January 14, 2021 - 12:54pm

Political leaders in the House of Representatives sign a manifesto of support for Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s push to amend "restrictive" economic provisions in the Constitution. — Xave Gregorio

January 13, 2021 - 5:26pm

The Department of the Interior and Local Government says around 555,610 signatures and LGU resolutions were submitted to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments to support the lifting of restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution.
“The DILG conducted roadshows all over the country in 2019 and last year pre-COVID and we can definitely say that there is growing public support to reforms in the 1987 Constitutions especially the lifting of restrictive economic provisions to encourage foreign capital flow and investments into the country,” says DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
“If not for COVID, we could have gathered more signatures but because the DILG turned its attention to the pandemic, we migrated our signature campaign on-line and relied on our CSO-partners starting March of 2020,” he adds.

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