10 business groups buck Cha-cha at this time
he groups said the government’s priority now should be economic recovery, given developments in vaccines for COVID-19.
Miguel De Guzman

10 business groups buck Cha-cha at this time

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - January 23, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Ten business organizations are against making amendments to the Constitution at this time and are urging the government to focus on the continued safe economic recovery instead.

The groups – Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Filipina CEO Circle, Investment House Association of the Philippines, Judicial Reform Initiative, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Retailers Association, Philippine Women’s Economic Network and Women’s Business Council Philippines – issued a joint statement yesterday to bare their position on the issue.

“We support initiatives to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to enhance the country’s competitive position globally. However, we are strongly opposed to any initiative at this time to amend the Constitution,” read a part of their statement.

They stressed that the move to amend the Constitution just 15 months before the 2022 presidential elections would only raise fears that the changes, including the controversial ones, would be introduced and passed.

“Thus any attempt at Charter change now will be highly divisive at a time when our country still needs to be totally united in our efforts to overcome the ill effects of the pandemic,” the groups said.

Instead of pushing for changes in the Constitution now, they urged all major presidential and congressional candidates in the coming 2022 elections to push for the relaxation of restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution and initiate steps for the adoption of such provisions within the first 12 months of their term.

The groups said the government’s priority now should be economic recovery, given developments in vaccines for COVID-19.

“At this time, we urge the enactment of other bills pending in Congress that will open doors to the economy that the Constitution has kept locked against the entry of foreign investors,” they added.

Among the bills being pushed by the business groups is the amendment of the Public Service Act, which has been approved by the House of Representatives and is pending at the Senate committee on public services. When approved, the proposed measure would lift restrictions on foreign equity ownership in the telecommunications and transportation sectors.

“We are hoping for this and other economic bills to be enacted before the end of the 18th Congress,” the groups said. – Edu Punay

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