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Thursday, June 13, 2024

House OKs RBH7 on 2nd reading via voice voting

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on second reading Resolution of Both Houses No. 7, which calls for economic amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

The House approved RBH 7 via viva voce or voice voting.  The chamber will approve the resolution on third and final reading next week when Congress goes on a Lenten break.

The plenary approval of the Resolution came after the House Committeeof the Whole approved the measure aimed at amending specific economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution concerning public utilities, education, and advertising.

The proposed amendment seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwiseprovided by law.” RBH 7 mirrors the content of RBH 6, currently being deliberated in the Senate.

Over the past two weeks, the committee, comprising all House members, has deliberated on various aspects of economic Charter amendments, gathering insights from legal luminaries, constitutional experts, government officials, and economists.

Discussions have centered on reassessing the 60-40 equity rule on foreign ownership, which currently restricts foreigners to owning up to 40 percent of companies in the Philippines. This rule has long been identified as a significant barrier to substantial increases in foreign direct investment and has hindered the country’s economic growth trajectory.

As soon as the proposed amendments are approved by the House and the Senate, and are ratified in a plebiscite, it would allow Congress to pass laws that would prescribe the rate of foreign ownership for these industries.

This as House leaders rebuffed former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s persistent claim that the ongoing push to amend the 1987 Constitution is geared towards term extension.

House Committee on Muslim Affairs Chairman and Lanao del Sur Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo and Assistant Majority Leader Francisco and La Union Rep. Paolo Ortega insisted that the focus is solely on amending the restrictive economic provisions in the 37-year-old Charter.

“It’s very clear, it’s in black and white that we’re only dealing specifically with the economic provisions,” Dimaporo told reporters.

Dimaporo was referring to two identical resolutions being discussed in both the House and the Senate, focusing on amending economic constitutional provisions related to public utilities, education, and advertising.

Dimaporo said perhaps Duterte, who he acknowledged is deeply respected and well-loved in Mindanao, might not be fully aware of the ongoing economic amendments discussions in Congress.

“Maybe he (Duterte) hasn’t been clarified on what’s happening here in Congress,” Dimaporo said.

In line with Dimaporo’s views, Ortega stressed that the discussions surrounding constitutional amendments have been solely centered on economic matters.

“It’s purely economic Cha-cha,” Ortega pointed out. “Even if you watch the debates in the Senate, the House, wala naman pong pinag-uusapan tungkol sa politika (never discussed political amendments).”

He added that during the debates, there was only discussion about economic changes, with no talk of politics or term extensions.

“We have never discussed a single thing about anything na political, extension of terms. Anything political, wala pong napag-usapan (there wasn’t any),” he said.

Duterte has consistently asserted that the primary aim of the Charter change efforts is to extend the term of incumbent elective officials, particularly President Marcos.

This assertion was reiterated during a recent “prayer rally” in support of embattled religious leader Apollo Quiboloy in Manila, which subsequently evolved into an anti-government demonstration.

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