Speaker: House rushing to amend Charter for country’s sake, not politics
MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has clarified that lawmakers are rushing to amend the 1987 Constitution not because of politics but because of a yearning to improve the country’s economy.
Romualdez, in a statement on Wednesday, said that the 301 House members who voted in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 7352, which, if enacted, will be the enabling law to Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, are merely considering the interests of Filipinos.
As many as 301 lawmakers voted in favor HB No. 7352 during Tuesday’s session, while only seven were against it.
“Yes, the 301 House Members who co-authored the twin resolutions are in a rush to amend these restrictive provisions of the Constitution. Just as we, in the House of Representatives, are in a rush to approve priority measures agreed upon in the LEDAC (Legislative-Executive Development Advisory) meetings to give flesh to the 8-Point Socio-Economic Agenda of the national government,” Romualdez said.
“Kung nagta-trabaho man kami ng mabilis, ito ay dahil interes ng mamamayan ang nakataya. Hindi pulitika, kundi ekonomiya ng bansa. Hindi eleksyon, kundi misyon na iahon ang mga kababayan natin sa kahirapan. Kailan pa naging kasalanan ang mag-trabaho nang mabilis para sa bayan?” he asked.
(If we do our jobs quickly, this is because the people’s interest is at stake. Not politics but the country’s economy. Not election, but the mission to lift fellow Filipinos out of poverty. When did working quickly for the country become a sin?)
READ: House passes bill to implement RBH No. 6 for creation of con-con to amend charter
Romualdez did not mention what prompted the clarification for the fast passage of HB No. 7352, but earlier, his counterpart in the Senate — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri — said he was baffled as to why the House is rushing Charter change proposals.
According to Zubiri, he does not understand why the House is pushing for Charter change when economy-related measures were passed in the 18th Congress.
READ: Why the rush? Zubiri tells House to ‘go slow’ on Cha-cha
Despite the rush, Romualdez maintained that extensive deliberations and consultations were done before HB No. 7352 and RBH No. 6 were approved.
“Let me make it clear, though. All legislative measures approved in the House of Representatives were deliberated extensively and exhaustively — from the committee level to plenary sessions. All voices were heard before we took a vote. Lahat ng ito, dumaan sa tamang proseso at masusing pag-aaral (All of these passed through extensive study),” he claimed.
HB No. 7352 seeks to implement RBH No. 6, which calls for a charter change through the constitutional convention mode. A constitutional convention, colloquially called Con-con, is one of the three possible methods to amend the 1987 Constitution, aside from a constituent assembly where sitting members of the Congress would be considered delegates and a people’s initiative.
Under a Con-con, voters would elect delegates tasked with amending or creating a new constitution.
On the other hand, the House pushes for a hybrid Con-con, where the House Speaker and the Senate President would appoint some delegates.
READ: Ex-Chief Justice Puno suggests ‘hybrid constitutional convention’
Romualdez reiterated that amending the 1987 Constitution’s alleged restrictive economic provisions would be the last piece of the puzzle because this would allow more foreign direct investments that would yield jobs.
Opposition lawmakers and figures, however, fear that removing economic restrictions would be dangerous to national security and patrimony.
READ: Colmenares: Amending Constitution won’t eradicate poverty or quash corruption
READ: Lawmaker bares ‘real’ charter change agenda
“We need to amend the restrictive provisions of the Constitution that prohibit the entry of foreign direct investments in the Philippines. We are competing with other countries in attracting foreign investments needed to encourage more business activities, which will create high-paying and quality jobs for Filipinos here in the country,” the Speaker said.
“Amending the Constitution is the last piece of the puzzle. While the Philippines made progress in addressing foreign ownership limitations that has constrained investment in many sectors, though legislation such as the Public Services Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the Foreign Investments Act, fundamental investment restrictions enshrined in the Philippine Constitution could not be corrected by simple legislations nor by Executive decisions. Hence a need for constitutional amendments,” he added.
READ: Amending Constitution last piece of the puzzle for economic growth — Romualdez
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