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Now is best time for Cha-cha talk, Rodriguez says

A Charter Change proponent in the House of Representatives on Tuesday opposed the call of Sen. Franklin Drilon for the House of Representatives to postpone its economic Cha-cha (Charter change) push to the latter part of 2022.

“I welcome Senator Drilon’s openness to economic reform in the Constitution, but I am against his suggestion that we delay working on it by almost two years,” Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez, the representative of Cagayan de Oro’s second district, said in a statement.

“I believe that this year is the best time to approve the proposal of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for the addition of the phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ in the Charter’s restrictive economic provisions,” he said.

This means that the present limitations will remain but Congress would have the power to alter them to allow for more foreign investor participation in business if the country’s economic situation warrants it, Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez stressed should the House and the Senate approve the Speaker’s proposal and voters ratify it in a plebiscite to be conducted simultaneously with the May 2022 elections, Congress would already have the power in the latter part of next year to change the restrictions to attract more foreign investments.

He pointed out that due to the deep contraction the health crisis has wrought on the economy, many economists are projecting that the country would only start attaining pre-pandemic growth next year or in 2023.

“So by that time, the constitutional economic reform the Speaker and the House envision should already be in place to help speed up our recovery from this crippling pandemic. We might miss the boat if we follow Sen. Drilon’s suggestion,” he stressed.

Drilon has said he was not against economic Cha-cha, but that the present Congress does not have the time to tackle it and should just leave it to the next Congress, which will be elected in May next year and will convene three months later in July.

Rodriguez said there is enough time this year for the House and the Senate “to work on the Speaker’s simple five-word amendment proposal.”

He said he is for the House first to act as a Constituent Assembly and approve the economic amendments by 3/4 votes of all its Members. Then the Senate, as a Constituent Assembly, will either reject them or approve them also by 3/4 votes. The Constitution does not require a joint session.

Topics: House of Representatives , Charter Change , Lord Allan Velasco , Franklin Drilon , Rufus Rodriguez
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