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Senators urged to take steps for charter change

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Sunday called on senators to back a measure that would amend the 1987 Constitution, particularly a provision that would ensure three senators for each of the country’s nine regions.

READ: Senate no rush to push House Cha-Cha reso

“Many regions do not have the representation at the Senate,” Rodriguez, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, told a radio interview. “Many of them [the senators] are from Metro Manila.”

“I hope our senators would listen. Just listen to all regions in our country who are always clamoring [for] …. representation in the Senate. Because the Senate also approves the budget. If there is no senator from their regions, they [feel] aggrieved,” he said.

Rodriguez’s committee, in an executive session, approved a resolution to amend the Constitution, including a provision to require the election of three senators from each region, bringing their total number from the current 24 to 27.

Rodriguez said increasing the number of senators would allow Filipinos in the regions to have representatives in the Senate to protect them and to bat for development in the countryside.

He said the United States has a similar distribution, with two senators for every state.

Rodriguez also batted for longer terms and the removal of term limits.

A three-fourths votes of all members of Congress and the Senate are needed to approve the proposal, with each chamber voting separately.

“If the Senate does not back this, nothing really will happen. So we have to convince our senators to support this. Because if the Senate will not get three-fourths vote, that would be difficult,” he acknowledged.

READ: House revs up Cha-Cha reso

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, express concern over a provision that would allow foreign investors to own more than 470 percent of some Filipino businesses.

He said he was also taken aback over the approval of the resolution to amend political and economic aspects of the Constitution.

“I am more alarmed over the inclusion of a phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by the law,’” he said.

On Wednesday, the panel passed the resolution adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to the constitutional restriction that capped foreign ownership in certain businesses at 40 percent, he said.

He said Congress and the Senate are empowered to enact a law that would ease the restriction on foreign investments.

“There may come a time that Congress could pass a law mandating 60-40 foreign equity ratio, 80-20 or in fact, even a 100 percent foreign,” he said.

“With such amendment, we really would not know the extent of the control of foreign investors,” he added.

He said the proposal, if passed, would not provide “any stability at all.”

Each Congress may change the country’s economic framework depending on who could be good in lobbying to pass a certain law, he said. 

Topics: Rufus Rodriguez , Carlos Isagani Zarate , Constitution , Congress , Carlos Isagani Zarate
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