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NPC bloc shuns federalism in economic Cha-cha
“No political amendments, purely economic. Anything that is political will be set aside. Federalism is the most political of all,” Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit explained during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum.
STAR/File

NPC bloc shuns federalism in economic Cha-cha

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The head of the 40-member Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) bloc in the House of Representatives declared that federalism would not be included in proposals to lift the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

“No political amendments, purely economic. Anything that is political will be set aside. Federalism is the most political of all,” Rizal Rep. Jack Duavit explained during the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan media forum.

“Our process here will be that of a self-regulating one. We will vote against anything that will be brought up that is political. We will vote them down. So, the moment they do that they (proponents of political reforms) will automatically lose 40 votes,” he said.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said he supports amending the 33-year-old charter but now is not the time to do it.

“Now is the wrong time to pursue this politically sensitive and potentially divisive issue as it would only deflect national attention from the principal concerns of COVID-19 response and economic recovery,” Villafuerte said.

DOJ chief prefers con-ass

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he prefers constituent assembly (con-ass) when amending certain portions of the Constitution.

“A constitutional convention (con-con), where delegates will be elected by the people, is more appropriate if the entire Constitution will be revised. But if only certain provisions of the Constitution will be amended such as the provisions on the national economy and patrimony, a constituent assembly, i.e., the two chambers of the legislature performing a sovereign act, is more expedient and less expensive,” said Guevarra.

“In either case, any revision or amendment of the Constitution will have to be ratified by the people,” he added.

Both the House and Senate are hearing proposals to amend the Constitution.

On the other hand, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) questioned the timeliness of the move, reiterating their 2018 pastoral statement against Charter change efforts.

“We are against charter change based on previous statements. And we still are. We have made ourselves very clear in the 2018 CBCP pastoral statement on charter change and the basic questions are still the same: Why now?” CBCP vice president and Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said.

“Especially the context of pandemic, all the more reason to be suspicious. Why would you be bringing in the agenda of charter change? But our focus and priority really is the pandemic. And of course the same old issues about, you know the expression, ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” he added.

Congress OKs 3 trade liberalization bills

Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, reported that Congress had already passed the Foreign Investment Act (FIA), Public Service Act (PSA) and Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

These three trade liberalization bills are now all pending in the Senate, he further pointed out. – Evelyn Macairan, Robertzon Ramirez

CHARTER CHANGE NPC
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