Amending Constitution an act of nationalism, says lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines—The proponents of the Charter change resolution in the House of Representatives have asked their colleagues to help them amend the 1987 Constitution in the spirit of nationalism and in response to calls for inclusive and balanced growth.
Davao City Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano, chair of the House constitutional amendments committee, said Congress must also exercise its constituent power for the benefit of the people’s welfare and the country’s economic progress.
“By freeing the people from the monopolistic activities of the rich Filipino elite, the exercise of such power will be one of the most nationalistic and patriotic act that this institution can do. Economic nationalism should not promote the welfare of the small minority of rich countrymen at the expense of the poor, large majority,” Albano said in her sponsorship speech.
The charter change resolution, principally authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to the constitutional provision limiting foreign investors’ participation in economic activities in the country.
This amendment would not automatically lift the restrictions against foreign ownership of land, utilities, and businesses, and would instead require Congress to pass laws pertaining to these.
Albano said Congress should approve this amendment so that the country could attract more foreign investments that would be a precursor to a better quality of growth.
“Economic nationalism involves crafting of government policies that will make the country more competitive and create a balanced economic environment conducive for investments to flow,” she said.
The committee approved the bill because it would allow Congress and the executive department to be more flexible in crafting economic policies that would respond to the present situation.
She said economic policies were best left to legislation to sustain and propel the country’s growth.
She said that while the Philippines has improved its gross domestic product growth, poverty, hunger, and joblessness have not been reduced.
“The reason for this predicament is the lack of opportunities and investments available in the country to generate employment,” she said.
She added that prominent Filipino economists, businessmen, and political scientists had such a conclusion. One expert had even said that the country’s many problems could be traced back to government policies that require a citizenship qualification for many types of economic activities.
Albano also said allowing more foreign participation in certain businesses and industries would not necessarily diminish one’s nationalism.
Neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia have more open economies, but this does not mean their love for their country is any less, according to Albano.
Albano said there has already been much discussion about charter change in the past several years, including that proposed amendments to the economic provisions.
She said the positions of key groups on the matter have not changed, and that it would be safe to conclude that even if discussions and consultations on the matter would continue in subsequent years, their position would not change.
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