Solon defends timing of House Cha-cha talks: ‘It’s the right time to do so’
MANILA, Philippines — “It is the right time to do the right thing,” Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. asserted Friday as questions were being raised against the move of the House of Representatives to tackle Charter change (Cha-cha) in this time of a pandemic.
“When you speak of the timing, it is the right time. I always say it’s always the right time to do the right thing and this is the right thing to do,” Garbin, chair of the House panel of constitutional amendments, said during the Ugnayan sa Batasan on Thursday.
The business sector, for one, has doubted the timing of House actions to amend the 1987 Constitution. Trade chief Ramon Lopez, meanwhile, thinks there might not be enough time for Cha-cha.
“We continue to support this initiative but we believe that introducing any Charter change fifteen months before presidential elections will only raise fears that other constitutional changes—some of which may be highly controversial—may be introduced and passed,” said the Makati Business Club.
“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,” it added.
On the other hand, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president Benedicto Yujuico said Monday: “PCCI supports initiatives to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to enhance the country’s competitive position globally, encourage more foreign direct investments, and address monopolistic, uncompetitive behaviors and underinvestments in some sectors critical to public interest.”
“But this should be done in a deliberate and careful manner that will continue to make the Constitution withstand various economic interests, but especially the test of time,” he also said.
Garbin’s House panel has started discussions on Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, which seeks to amend provisions that prevent foreign ownership of land and businesses in the country as well as ease restrictions on ownership and management of mass media, public utilities, educational institutions, investments, and foreign capital.
The next House committee hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday, January 26.
According to Garbin, PCCI and MBC have submitted separate position papers before favoring the lifting of restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.
“We want to be proactive in promoting our investment para hindi tayo mapag-iwanan dahil napag-iiwanan na tayo (so we will not be left behind because we are being left behind). The secret of getting ahead is to get ready that’s why we want to ready our business climate here in our country while we are recovering, economically recovering from this pandemic,” he said.
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