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Lawmaker defends President Marcos on Cha-cha stance

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Lawmaker defends President Marcos on Cha-cha stance
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, lamented that the Senate, under the leadership of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, has always been opposed to Charter change.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — An official of the House of Representatives has defended President Marcos for voicing his openness to amending the Constitution – particularly its economic provisions – and chided the Senate for its “obstructionist stance.”

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, lamented that the Senate, under the leadership of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, has always been opposed to Charter change.

“We are appalled by the obstructionist stance of the Senate for economic amendments. We are now No. 8 in foreign direct investments (FDIs) in 10-member ASEAN. Alarmingly, we have been overtaken by Vietnam and Cambodia. We are only ahead of Laos and Myanmar,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez – a law dean before joining local politics – also debunked Zubiri’s position that amending the Public Service Act is enough to address defects in the economic provisions of the Constitution.

“The Senate President is dead wrong on his stand that laws (statutes) can amend the Constitution. Of course not! The previous laws amending the Public Service Act are now being questioned by at least two petitions in the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional,” he pointed out.

“Just amending the Public Service Act to change the constitutional provisions prohibiting or limiting foreign investments cannot and will not pass constitutional muster,” the Cagayan de Oro City congressman emphasized.

“Also, we have not seen proof of foreign airlines, foreign shipping companies and foreign railway companies applying for franchise or authority to open their businesses in the Philippines,” Rodriguez stressed.

“How can foreign companies apply to do business here under the amendments of the Public Service Act when the constitutionality of these amendments have been questioned in the Supreme Court?” he asked.

“We need to open our economy to attract much needed foreign investments in our country. We need to provide more employment opportunities to our people and more business taxes to finance our social programs,” he maintained.

At a hearing held last April, professors from the country’s top universities and colleges endorsed the House-approved measures that would pave the way for the amendment of prohibitive economic provisions in the Constitution.

“We are heartened by their support for our push for an improved investment and economic climate in the country. As the Speaker has repeatedly declared, economic reforms in the Charter would be the final piece in the puzzle for this push,” Rodriguez said.

The chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments issued the statement in an attempt to persuade their counterparts in the Senate to take up Resolution of Both Houses 6 and House Bill 7352, which remains pending before the Senate.

The academicians were University of the Philippines economics professors emeritus Raul Fabella and Gerry Sicat, Ateneo de Manila University international economic law professor Anthony Abad, University of Santo Tomas political science professor Froilan Calilung and San Beda University law professor Edmund Tayao.

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