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Saturday, April 13, 2024

House adopting RBH 6 ‘in toto’

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To dispel doubts on push for economic ‘Cha-cha,’ says Speaker

The House of Representatives would adopt the Senate’s Charter change measure – Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 – in full and without any changes to dispel doubts on the push to amend restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, Speaker Martin Romualdez said Monday.

“To dispel doubts that the efforts of the House of Representatives in pushing for the amendment of the economic provisions of the Constitution are politically motivated, we are adopting all the three proposed amendments of the Senate version of Resolution of Both Houses 6, in toto,” Romualdez said.

The Speaker gave the commitment during his opening remarks at the House Committee of the Whole’s first hearing on Resolution of Both Houses No. 7, which is almost an exact reproduction of RBH No. 6, introduced by Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara.

They are both entitled “A Resolution of Both Houses of Congress proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, particularly on Articles 12, 14 and 16” which cover public services, education, and the advertising industry.

RBH 6, however, is pushing for a separate vote of both chambers of Congress in approving the amendments while RBH 7 is seeking a joint vote.

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Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri disclosed it was President Marcos, during yesterday’s signing of new laws at the Palace, who told Congress leaders to adopt the “output” of the Upper Chamber as he aired his desire to have the plebiscite on the Charter amendments held simultaneously with the 2025 elections.

“[The President] said and reiterated that let the Senate take the lead. He asked the House leaders to wait for our output and that they should just adopt… He [Marcos] wants the House to adopt our version. It was a very good meeting, very cordial,” he said.

“And then he [Marcos] told us, and it was very clear – made very clear as actually Senator Loren [Legarda] double checked this – that there should be no political amendments,” Zubiri added.

Zubiri said the President also asked Senator Sonny Angara to look at the legal possibilities to convince the Commission on Elections to add that rider question on the back page of the ballot for the plebiscite.

With the President’s directive for the House to adopt RBH No. 6, Zubiri said there is no need to rush the deliberations on the amendments.

“If this is the case, then there is no need to rush with the hearings on amending the economic provisions. We can take this up after the [Holy Week] break, and complete the resolution, and approve the resolution before the sine die break, our target date – or as the may say – promised date,” he said.

Romualdez said the commitment of the House “should assure the public that the Congress is only touching on the economic provisions that need to adapt to the changing times.”

“There is absolutely nothing in RBH 7 that hovers on any political provision of the Constitution,” the Speaker added.

Members of the economic team led by National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan articulated their support to the Charter change push during the House hearing.

Balisacan pointed out that globally, evidence suggests a significant connection between the extent of the country’s statutory and equity restrictiveness to the country’s realized foreign direct investment flows.

He said the Philippines “has missed several chances to attract FDI, technological know-how, and managerial talent that our economy needs to raise its productivity and competitiveness in the global arena.”

“We must catch up, not be held back by uncompetitive markets dominated by a few players, expensive inputs that result in higher prices for end- consumers, and incomplete value chains that prevent us from producing more technologically complex goods and services,” Balisacan said.

Monetary Board Member Romeo Bernardo said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas “supports efforts that will promote inclusive economic growth of the country including, among others, easing restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution.”

“BSP believes that reducing, if not removing, restrictive provisions will facilitate increase in foreign capital investment and hasten the growth of the economy, which, in turn, can expedite the ability of the nation to realize inclusive economic growth,” he said.

The Department of Finance also supported the economic Charter amendment proposals.

In a position paper presented to the Committee of the Whole of the House, the DoF said it supports the opening up of certain sectors of the economy to foreign ownership, including public utilities, mass media, advertising, education, and mining.

However, the department opposed foreign ownership of land.

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