House leader to Senate: Give Cha-cha a chance


CITING inter-chamber courtesy, House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairman Rufus Rodriguez on Monday said the Senate should not ignore the overwhelming sentiment of members of the House of Representatives for rewriting the Constitution’s economic provisions.

Rodriguez made a statement in reaction to remarks by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri that it would be useless for senators to tackle Charter change since there would be no vote for it in his chamber.

“The Senate cannot and should not ignore our initiative, which is an expression of the people’s consensus we gathered in our recent nationwide public hearings and consultations,” he said.

He said 301 of the 314 House members manifested such consensus by voting for Resolution of Both Houses No. 6, which urges Congress to convene a constitutional convention to rewrite the Charter’s “restrictive” economic provisions.

“Inter-chamber courtesy calls that the Senate tackle any measure passed by the House, especially if it is approved by an overwhelming vote and requires urgent attention, and vice versa,” Rodriguez said.

He added that Zubiri, who claims he is for Charter reform, should not be afraid of the result of the Senate vote on the matter.

“Let the people know who are against and who are for reform that could result in more foreign companies investing or expanding their businesses in the country,” he added.

Rodriguez also urged senators to take cognizance of the assessment of Fitch Solutions, a unit of credit rating and financial market research firm Fitch Ratings, that constitutional economic reform could improve the investment and economic climate in the country.

According to Fitch Solutions, the present economic provisions of the Constitution have always been a “challenge” for foreign investors.

“We need more foreign capital to create more jobs and income for our people, to reduce the number of unemployed among those with employable skills,” he said.

He noted reports that the unemployment rate in the country rose to 4.8 percent in January this year from 4.3 percent in December last year.

The figure translated to about 2.3 million jobless workers, many of whom were in the construction sector.

For his part, Camarines Sur Rep. Lray Villafuerte said there is more reason for the Senate to pass the Con-Con measures soon enough now that Chairman George Garcia of the Commission on Elections has told the media that the Comelec is ready should the balloting for Con-Con delegates be held simultaneously with the BSKE on October 30.

Villafuerte pleaded to legislators in both chambers who continue to resist Charter Change “to support the lifting of our Constitution’s misplaced and outdated sense of nationalism as the Philippines, despite its newfound image as one of Asia’s economic stars, a dramatic increase in FDIs will never see the light of day in our country for so long as investors see the 40-percent cap on foreign ownership or participation in local businesses as a nagging deal-breaker for investments.”

He appealed to senators to have “open hearts and minds” on long-needed constitutional reforms, assuring them that the Con-Con neither has a hidden agenda to marginalize them in  the voting on would-be amendment  proposals  nor to abolish the Senate.

Villafuerte stressed that the House had passed the resolution and bill both  calling for reforms by a Con-Con in lieu of the Congress convening itself into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass), precisely to eschew the kind of protracted debates that marred past attempts over whether senators and congressmen are required by the 1987 Charter to vote separately or jointly on would-be proposed amendments.”