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House OKs economic ‘Cha-cha’ bill

Voting 251-21-2, the House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the proposed economic Charter Change measure under Resolution of Both Houses 2 principally authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

The resolution containing the proposals to amend the economic restrictions of the 1987 Constitution would then be transmitted to the Senate.

RBH 2 seeks to empower Congress to change constitutional limitations on foreign participation in certain sectors of the economy like telecommunications, public utilities, media, advertising, and education, except land, which will continue to be only for Filipinos.

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay, a principal sponsor of the RBH 2, hailed the bill’s approval on third reading, saying that he believes there is time to complete the legislative process in the proposal “in time for plebiscite in 2022.”

Salceda also renewed calls for the Senate to pass its own counterpart measure.

“The ball is now with the Senate. One thing the House leadership has proven with our expeditious passage of economic reforms is that we are not standing in the way of real change on the economic front. Speaker Velasco has promised to be a modernizing force in policymaking, and so far, he has delivered,” Salceda said.

Salceda maintained his reassurance that the House has no intent of introducing political provisions to the proposed revisions.

“RBH 2 is pure economic reform. We know and understand that any political charter change will be dead on arrival. Senate President Sotto has made this clear, and we are also making our intentions and position abundantly clear.” Salceda added.

“We still have time to finish this process. These are not extensive provisions. They merely open the possibility for Congressional action towards greater openness to new jobs and new industries. So, we hope the Senate can take action soon,” Salceda explained.

Velasco earlier said the “restrictive” economic provisions in the Constitution, which hamper the flow of foreign capital investments, must be lifted to support the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

He said foreign investments play a crucial role in the economy by supporting domestic jobs and the creation of physical and knowledge capital across a range of industries.

RBH 2 specifically aims to amend certain economic provisions of the Constitution, particularly Articles XII (National Patrimony and Economy), XIV (Education, Science, Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports) and XVI (General Provisions).

The measure seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to several sections of the Constitution, which restrict foreign ownership of land, natural resources, public utilities, educational institutions, media, and advertising.

It provides that by a vote of three-fourths of all its members, the Senate and the House voting separately could propose amendments to the economic provisions of the basic law of the land.

Topics: House of Representatives , Lord Allan Velasco , 1987 Constitution , economic Charter Change
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