Cebu News

Charter Change? Yes

Delon Porcalla - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Philippine legislators want the country to open up and lift its restrictive economic policies towards foreign investments, so that the country can still catch up with neighbors whose economies have soared for the past decades or so.

“Status quo is the last thing we need. We have to wake up from our long slumber, so to speak. Don’t we need to catch up? Can we not entertain change at all? Can we not try something new?” asked Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong of Lanao del Sur’s first district.

“In this era of fast global digitalization, the Philippines needs to level up by trying to compete, or at least be at par with advanced economies. We are sorely lacking in infrastructure, which is why our Asian neighbors have left us behind,” also said Rep. Jay Khonghun of Zambales’ first district.

Reps. Paolo Ortega V of La Union’s first district, Rodge Gutierrez of 1-Rider party-list and Jil Bongalon of Ako Bicol party-list, all fellow members of the House’s so-called “Young Guns” under the leadership of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, made the same pitch.

“After nearly 40 years since the post-Marcos Sr. era, do we still need a status quo? We have seen our neighbors progress. We have been a laggard; that’s the hard truth. But do we need to be a laggard forever?” Ortega, a House assistant majority leader, asked.

“We urge the Senate to join us in unlocking our nation's full potential and ensuring sustained economic growth through constitutional economic amendments. By attracting foreign investments and fostering a competitive, inclusive business environment, we can generate more jobs for Filipinos,” Gutierrez, a lawyer, said.

Bongalon, another lawyer, raised the same concerns.

“We need some economic adjustments to keep pace with the demands of the global economy. Opening specific economic provisions can create a more dynamic and resilient economy facing future challenges. The proposal will help attract more foreign direct investments crucial for the Philippines' financial expansion and infrastructure development,” he said.

The House members invoked the latest survey of reputable pollster Tangere, where a convincing 57 percent of Filipinos have supported moves for constitutional amendments primarily for economic reasons.

Based on the answers of 1,500 respondents nationwide, where the survey was held from May 21 to 25 this year, the survey indicated that 57 percent – or a slight two percent increase from April’s figures – wanted key economic provisions in the fundamental law of the land tweaked.

“Strong support is observed among respondents from Metro Manila, Southern Luzon, and Bicol Region, while disagreement is more common among respondents from Mindanao and Central Luzon, and from the upper-income classes,” Tangere stated in its report.

Tangere reported that six to seven out of 10 respondents perceive the advantages of the constitutional amendment to economic provisions, including the creation of more jobs (72 percent), higher economic growth (68 percent), increase in salaries and work benefits (67 percent), and decrease in the prices of goods and services (63 percent).

However, 27 percent of respondents expressed concerns about a potential worsening of corruption, while another 23 percent fear an increase in foreign competitors for local businesses.

Tangere conducted its constitutional amendment survey through a mobile-based respondent application with a sample size of 1,500 participants.

The survey has a margin of error of +/-2.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level, utilizing a stratified random sampling or quota-based sampling method.

The respondents were distributed across the Philippines: 12 percent from the National Capital Region, 23 percent from Northern Luzon, 22 percent from Southern Luzon, 20 percent from Visayas, and 23 percent from Mindanao. (CEBU NEWS)

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