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Sunday, April 21, 2024

‘Despite PBBM’s stand, House to pursue Cha-cha talks‘

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The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments will continue holding public hearings and consultations on the proposed Charter change (Cha-cha), the panel chairman said on Monday.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, committee chairman, issued the statement following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s statement that the country could attract foreign investments even with the present 1987 Constitution.

“We respect the opinion of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on constitutional amendment measures. We will of course consider it. But as an independent branch of government, the House of Representatives and Congress will proceed with its public dialogues on this issue,” Rodriguez said.

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments was conducting hearings in Iloilo City.

“We laud and commend President Marcos Jr. for trying to entice foreign businessmen in his trips abroad to invest their money in the country. He is our best salesman. But certain restrictive provisions of the Charter could be impeding investments,” the lawmaker pointed out.

“In our hearings at the House of Representatives last week and in Cagayan de Oro City last Friday, the overwhelming recommendation was to rewrite the Constitution’s economic provisions to allow for more foreign investments,” Rodriguez said.

He said participants also suggested the calling of an elected Constitutional convention to propose Charter changes.

“The emerging consensus is to relax restrictions on the entry of foreign capital into the country,” he said.

He added that his committee would hold more consultations in other parts of Luzon.

Speaker Martin Romualdez has said if the House decides to initiate the process of proposing amendments to the Constitution, its goal would be to encourage investments that would generate more economic activities, job opportunities and income for the people.

He said the tweaking of the Charter’s economic provisions could be the “last piece in the puzzle” of attracting more foreign investments.

Earlier, Romualdez said congressional deliberations on the proposed Constitutional amendments are more focused now on the need to encourage investments that would further stimulate economic activities, create job opportunities, reduce poverty and lower prices of goods and services.

“The proponents of the lifting of the economic provisions in the Constitution agree on one thing: opening the economy wide for inflow of foreign capital is the key to address the aspirations and ideals of Filipinos in present times,” Romualdez said.

He said investment restrictions on foreign ownership range from requiring at least 60 percent Filipino ownership to total prohibition.

He added that the Constitution prohibits foreign ownership in mass media and allows only 30 percent foreign capital in advertising agencies, and 40 percent in educational facilities.

“In the education sector, foreign ownership caps prevented the Philippines from hosting topnotch universities seeking to establish a presence in Asia,” the House Speaker pointed out.

He added that while the country has been addressing foreign ownership limitation that has constrained investment in many sectors through legislation such as the Public Services Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Foreign Investment Act, “fundamental investment restrictions enshrined in the Constitution could not be corrected by simple legislations or by Executive decisions.”

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