Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is looking forward to the ratification of the Charter-change at the same time of the 2022 elections.
“I have instructed the House committee on constitutional amendments to open the discussions on amending the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, as stated within Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 2 that I have authored,” he said.
“When I filed RBH 2 in July 2019, the Philippines was poised to become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. The World Bank gave the country a projection of 6.6 percent GDP growth in the years 2020 and 2021.
No one could have predicted the onset of a global pandemic, along with the devastation it has brought upon the economies around the world, he said.
“To set the stage for our economic recovery, Congress passed the P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021, which includes a P72.5-billion appropriation for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos. We also extended the availability of funds appropriated through the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 and the 2020 General Appropriations Act to help the country recover from the pandemic,” he said in a statement.
He said that as global economies slowly start to reopen, “we cannot allow the Philippines to lag behind in terms of investments and opportunities. We need to seize the momentum if we are to fully recover from the economic devastation of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
“It is incumbent upon the duly-elected representatives of the Filipino people to enact laws that will provide much-needed economic relief to our countrymen, especially during these unprecedented times,” he said.
“RBH 2 seeks to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution that prevent us from becoming fully competitive with our Asian neighbors. We are proposing to amend Sections 2, 3, 7, 10 and 11 of Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), Section 4 of Article XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports) and Section 11 of Article XVI (General Provisions) to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law,” he cited.
The addition of the phrase would allow Congress to enact laws to free up the economy to foreign investors, or maintain the status quo, the Speaker said.
Foreign investment plays a crucial role in the Philippine economy by supporting domestic jobs and the creation of physical and knowledge capital across a range of industries. The need to attract foreign capital is critical to support our economy’s recovery from COVID-19,” he said.
“We hope to finish the debates before the end of 2021 and present it to the public for ratification alongside the election of new leaders in the 2022 national elections. Until then, we assure the public that the debates on RBH 2 will be transparent and fair,” he added.
Meanwhile, BUHAY party-list Rep. Joselito Atienza on Sunday said he was calling for Charter change to quickly liberalize Philippine industries and pivot to new economy.
Atienza, a deputy speaker, is seeking “bold reforms in the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution” to enable the country to swiftly attract large-scale foreign direct investments badly needed to rebuild Philippine industries shattered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We have to overhaul the restrictive provisions of our Constitution and lay the foundations of a new economy that is more welcoming if not totally welcoming to foreign investments,” he said.
He dismissed as “shortsighted” Vice President Leni Robredo’s and Taguig City Rep. Alan Cayetano’s knee-jerk rejection of calls for charter reforms.
“What the country needs now is visionary strategic leadership that looks ahead five to 10 years from now,” he said.
“Foreign ownership of many of our industries is still limited up to 40 percent only. We must now relax these limits,” he said.
“The national economy needs a powerful vaccine – a big shot in the arm by way of several billions of dollars in new foreign investments every year over the next five years,” he added.
He said the country needs a Marshall Plan-type recovery program anchored on drawing huge private foreign capital to help rebuild the industries so that they could start creating jobs again.
The Marshall Plan, otherwise known as the European Recovery Program, was a United States if America program that provided $15 billion in aid to Western Europe following the devastation of World War II.
“Right now, the highly developed world is awash with cash because central banks have slashed interest rates to almost zero to encourage spending and consumption amid the global crisis,” Atienza said.
“We need a lot of that foreign capital to come in fast over a short period. But we must open many of our industries because there are also other countries with freer economies that want that money,” he said.