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Senate, House to push for economic Cha-cha — lawmaker

Shiela Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Senate, House to push for economic Cha-cha â lawmaker
Rodriguez said he and Senate committee chair Robinhood Padilla reached this consensus to open the country’s economy “to more foreign investments in order to create more jobs.”
Official Gazette, file

MANILA, Philippines — The panels of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Charter change have agreed to push for amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, according to House committee chair and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said he and Senate committee chair Robinhood Padilla reached this consensus to open the country’s economy “to more foreign investments in order to create more jobs.”

“This will likewise support President Bongbong Marcos’ initiatives in meeting businessmen in different foreign countries to invite them to invest in the Philippines,” he noted in a Facebook post.

Under the Constitution, foreign investment is limited in public utilities, development of natural resources and education to only 40 percent; advertising to only 30 percent; mass media and land at zero percent.

The lawmaker added these constitutional prohibitions have limited the entry of foreign investments into the country.

So what happens, he said, is that these investments have gone instead to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam “leaving the Philippines behind.”

After the briefing, Padilla also met with Speaker Martin Romualdez, Majority Leader Manuel Dalipe and Senior Majority Leader Sandro Marcos.

No silver bullet

Political science professors at the University of the Philippines have reminded lawmakers pushing for Charter change that it is not a “silver bullet” or a “holy elixir” that could solve the country’s problems.

“It is not a panacea to remedy our socio-economic ills or the only means to accomplish our national desires and aspirations. Reforms can be accomplished through an appropriate mix of legislation and policy interventions, and not simply through constitutional amendments or even institutional overhaul,” read the position paper recently issued by faculty members of the UP Department of Political Science.

For instance, they said the proposed constitutional amendments on economic provisions are insufficient to attract more investors and that “infrastructure development is more important in improving the economy than changing the ownership rules.”

The professors also cautioned against proposals that would reopen the possibility for reelection of the president, citing the weak political party system in the Philippines.

The political science professors likewise stressed that Constitution-making should be a national endeavor, urging Congress “to fully lay down its plans before the people so that the people may know and be encouraged to participate from the beginning.”

They also disputed claims that there is public clamor for constitutional amendments, citing numerous surveys showing that it is not among the most urgent concerns of Filipinos.

Even President Marcos, they said, has recognized the difficulty in terms of public acceptability and legitimacy to change the Constitution.

“We cannot proceed with Charter change without the genuine buy-in of an informed public, let alone its absence in the presidential legislative agenda,” said the professors. – Janvic Mateo

RUFUS RODRIGUEZ

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