House to start plenary debates on Cha-cha next week
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will start on Feb. 22 its plenary debates on the proposed changes to certain restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution, the chair of the House committee on constitutional amendments said on Sunday.
“The sponsorship and plenary debates will start on Feb. 22,” Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said in a text message.
The House panel on constitutional amendments approved on Feb. 2 the Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH 2), filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, which would ease restrictions on ownership and management of mass media, public utilities, educational institutions, investments and capital by foreign investors.
The panel, however, agreed to retain the ban on foreign ownership of land.
Under Velasco’s resolution, the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” would be added to Articles 12 (national patrimony and economy), 14 (education, science, and technology) and 16 (general provisions) in the Constitution that restricts the participation of foreign investors in the country.
In her letter to Garbin, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said easing the economic restrictions in the country’s basic law would be necessary to have the flexibility to adapt to changes in world economic conditions.
“If the Constitution holds important economic structures such as control over capital, access to resources, barriers to entry as fixed, we will be left behind,” Quimbo said.
Quimbo, who is also an economist, explained that contrary to concerns that the proposed amendments would allow for the unregulated influx of foreign capital that would threaten local industries, “the proposal under RBH 2 is not a free pass for all foreign investments to come in.”
“The phrase to be added, ‘unless otherwise provided by law,’ is both liberating and serves as a protection clause. It allows our economic regulations to evolve with the times,” she said.
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