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Get the Cha-cha ball rolling, solon urges

THE groundwork for amending the 1987 Constitution should start early because it will require a lot of study and debate, Davao City Congressman Karlo Alexei Nograles said Saturday as he supported a measure calling for Constitutional Convention to change the Charter.

Incumbent Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who is expected to lead the minority when the House of Representatives convenes on July 25,  had no objections to the proposal and instead focussed on why economic provisions in the Constitution should be changed.

“It may sound very simple but changing a system of government is an arduous task. Going to the nitty-gritty of dividing our regions into federal states and creating new administrative positions would require long hours of serious deliberation,” Nograles said.

He said the proposed House Concurrent Resolution No. 1 calling for an elected convention to amend the Constitution, filed by incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Friday, would already avoid debate on the method by which the Cha-Cha initiative would be carried out.

Incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
But Nograles also expects serious debates on whether the amendments should only cover provisions on the system of government or include contentious provisions on the economy, patrimony, national security and even term limits.

“We should expect intense debates on these issues which is why I believe that this early, we should already start the ball rolling,” he pointed out.

The Davao solon said that he will definitely co-author the Alvarez proposal and work with the incoming speaker in ensuring that this will be approved in Congress at the soonest possible time.

“We should work immediately on this Cha-Cha proposal although we can simultaneously focus on other proposals that are part of President Duterte’s legislative agenda,” Nograles said. 

Belmonte, on the other hand, posed no objection to the Con-Con proposal and instead focused on restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution which hampers the flow of foreign capital into the country.

“In order to realize the full benefit of inclusive growth, the restrictive economic provisions in the Philippine Constitution, which hamper the flow of foreign capital investments, must be lifted,” said Belmonte in filing Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2.

Belmonte said statistics show that despite the economic growth, poverty incidence remained constant for the past six years, thus the need to urgently address the issue.

“The mandate given to current leaders who advocated for change signifies renewed trust in the government and immense optimism in its ability and commitment to bring about improvement in the quality of life of Filipinos.

He further said the trust reposed by the people upon the country’s leaders has encouraged more investments, which have led to economic growth, earning for the country the reputation as the fastest-growing economy in Asia.

“Growing global interest in Asia provides an opportunity for the Philippines to compete for more investments,” said Belmonte.

Under Belmonte’s proposal, the constitutional amendments will be done by the Senate and the House of Representatives, by a vote of three-fourths of all its members, each House voting separately, and pursuant to Article XVII of the Constitution, to propose amendments to Articles XII, XIV and XVI of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

Belmonte’s resolution 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, media, and advertising.

Specifically, these parts of the Constitution are: Sections 2, 3, 7, 10 and 11 of Article XII pertaining to National Patrimony and Economy; Section IV of Article XIV pertaining to Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports; and Section 11 of Article XVI pertaining to General Provisions.

The amendment to Paragraph 1, Section 2 of Article XII provides that “All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens, unless otherwise provided by law.”

Meanwhile, the amendment to Paragraph 1, Section 3 of Art. XII provides that “Lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands and national parks. Agricultural lands of the public domain may be further classified by law according to the uses to which they may be devoted. Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years, and not to exceed 1,000 hectares in area, unless otherwise provided by law.”

As to the amendment to Section 7 of Article XII, it provides that “Save in cases of hereditary succession, unless otherwise provided by law, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.”

The amendment to Paragraph 1, Section 10 of Article XII provides that “The Congress shall, upon recommendation of the economic and planning agency, when the national interest dictates, reserve to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens, or such higher percentage as Congress may prescribe, certain areas of investments, unless otherwise provided by law.”

The amendments to Section 11 of Article XII provides that “No franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines, at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens, unless otherwise provided by law; nor shall such franchise, certificate, or authorization be exclusive in character or for a longer period than fifty years. Neither shall any such franchise or right be granted except under the condition that it shall be subject to amendment, alteration, or repeal by the Congress when the common good so requires. The State shall encourage equity participation in public utilities by the general public. Unless otherwise provided by law, the participation of foreign investors in the governing body of any public utility enterprise shall be limited to their proportionate share in its capital, and all the executive and managing officers of such corporation or association must be citizens of the Philippines.”

Meanwhile, the amendments to Paragraph 1, Section 4 of Article XIV provide that “Educational institutions, other than those established by religious groups and mission boards, shall be owned solely by citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, unless otherwise provided by law. The Congress may, however, require increased Filipino equity participation in all educational institutions. The control and administration of educational institutions shall be vested in citizens of the Philippines, unless otherwise provided by law.”

The amendment to Paragraphs 1, Section 11 of Article XVI provides that “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens, unless otherwise provided by law.

Lastly, the amendments to Paragraph 2, Section 11 of Article XVI provide that “Only Filipino citizens or corporations or associations at least seventy per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens shall be allowed to engage in the advertising industry, unless otherwise provided by law. Unless otherwise provided by law, the participation of foreign investors in the governing body of entities in such industry shall be limited to their proportionate share in the capital thereof, and all the executive and managing officers of such entities must be citizens of the Philippines.”

Topics: Charter change , Cha-cha , 1987 Constitution
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