The head of the House panel pushing for Charter amendments yesterday urged the Senate to consider the assessment of Fitch Solutions that constitutional economic reforms will improve the country’s investment and business climate.
Senator JV Ejercito, however, said there are only four to five senators who are supportive of the move, echoing an earlier statement of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri that Charter change advocates do not have the numbers in the Upper 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,” said House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairman Rufus Rodriguez.
On March 6, the House overwhelmingly voted to approve Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 which calls on Congress to convene a constitutional convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. It is scheduled to vote on Monday on House Bill No. 7352, which implements the resolution.
“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.
Zubiri, however, was blunt in rejecting the House initiative.
“It would be useless for senators to tackle Charter change since there would be no vote for it in his chamber,” the senator said over the weekend.
But Rodriguez said Zubiri should not be afraid of the result of the Senate vote on the proposed Charter change.
“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 said.
In its report, Fitch Solutions said the present economic provisions of the Constitution have always been a “challenge” for foreign investors.
As this developed, all members of the National Unity Party (NUP) in the House of Representatives voted for the passage of RBH No. 6.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, the party’s president, said the NUP is in full support of the House leadership’s initiative to amend certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
“In a show of unequivocal support for the priority measure on Charter Change of the House leadership led by Speaker Martin (Romualdez), all of our 45 NUP members in the House have voted for the resolution establishing later this year a 251-member Con-Con to study and propose changes to the economic provisions of our 1987 Charter,” he said.
The NUP is the second biggest power bloc in the House next to the Romualdez-led Lakas-CMD party.
“The overwhelming vote for the resolution illustrates the broad consensus not only in the NUP but in most of the other political groups as well in the House on the urgency for constitutional reforms, as a way to sharpen our country’s global competitiveness as an investment haven and generate a much higher level of FDI inflows that would spell greater economic activity, create more—and better—jobs and improve the lives of our people,” Villafuerte said.