House panel adopts resolution pushing for economic Cha-cha
MANILA, Philippines — On the 34th year of ratification of the 1987 Constitution, a committee in the House of Representatives adopted a resolution proposing economic amendments to the country’s charter.
During its meeting on Tuesday, the House committee on constitutional amendments voted to adopt Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.
Under the Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” would be added to the constitutional restrictions that limit the participation of foreign investors in the governing body of entities based on their proportionate share in the capital.
The same phrase would likewise be added to provisions saying only Filipino citizens can control, own, and/or lease public utilities, educational institutions, mass media companies, and advertising companies in the country.
The resolution will now be brought to the House plenary for further debates.
The House panel adopted the resolution even as critics questioned its timing especially as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. Critics likewise feared that the proposed charter change will include political provisions such as term extension for lawmakers.
However, panel chair Alfredo Garbin Jr. repeatedly assured that the proposed charter change will only cover the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
‘Not yet a constituent assembly’
Aside from the timing and coverage of the proposed amendments, there are also questions on the charter change process.
Under the Constitution, there are three ways to propose amendments or revisions to the 1987 Constitution—the constituent assembly (Con-Ass), the constitutional convention (Con-Con), or People’s Initiative.
Through a vote of three-fourths of all of its members, Congress can convene into a Con-Ass and propose amendments or revisions to the Constitution. This body will be made up of all congressmen and senators.
However, the Constitution does not specify whether the two chambers of Congress will vote jointly or separately during the charter change process.
Nonetheless, during the first charter change hearing in the House on January 13, Garbin explained since the committee is dealing with proposals to revise the charter, it is already sitting as a Con-Ass “exercising our constituent power.”
Garbin said the House committee was already convening as a Con-Ass even as other lawmakers pointed out that a Con-Ass must be a joint meeting of members of the House and members of the Senate.
During the House meeting on Tuesday, former Supreme Court justice Adolfo Azcuna said that what the committee was doing was merely a preparation for the convention into a Con-Ass.
Azcuna likewise insisted that the House and Senate have to vote separately during the charter change process.
This is a developing story.
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