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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Congress must pursue Charter edit despite low survey support–solon

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The House of Representatives and the Senate should pursue economic Charter amendments despite a Pulse Asia survey showing that most Filipinos do not support the initiative.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, one of the chief proponents of the Charter change (Cha-cha) initiative, made this observation saying the national leadership, including President Marcos Jr., believes that changing the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution would benefit the country as it would result in more foreign investments coming in.”

Meanwhile, a Pahayag survey by the group Publicus Asia showed that President Marcos was given a 29 percent approval for his initiatives to address inflation.

On the other hand, the “Boses ng Bayan” national survey, conducted March 18-23 by the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. (RPMD), gave Marcos a hefty 79 percent trust rating and 76 percent approval rating.

Rodriguez believed that this sentiment is shared by the business community, concerned incumbent and former government officials, economists, professionals, and other experts as evidenced by their testimonies in recent House hearings.

He said the dominant view expressed by the resource persons during the hearings favored rewriting the foreign equity and ownership restrictions in public utilities, education and advertising.

Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on ConstitutionalAmendments, urged President Marcos and leaders of Congress “to stay the course.” “The right decisions are not always popular,” he stressed.

He said reversing course at this point in the pursuit for economic Charter reform would worsen the country’s image before the investing community.

“It would strengthen their perception of the Philippines as urong-sulong (indecisive) when it comes to opening up its economy,” he stressed.

The Mindanao lawmaker is one of the authors of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7, the House version of the proposed economic constitutional amendments. He was among the resolution’s authors who defended the proposals during the House plenary debates three weeks ago.

The House has already approved RBH No. 7 on third and final reading and has sent it to the Senate. The Senate version, RBH No. 6, is authored by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara.

Rodriguez said for the first time in 37 years, the two chambers of Congress have come this close to proposing amendments to the Constitution.

“And we are limiting the proposed changes only to three areas. There is no proposal to extend the term of any elective official. There is no political amendment,” he said.

He said the inclusion of questions on political amendments in the recent survey might have confused the public.

Rodriguez pointed out that he continues to believe that changing foreign capital and ownership restrictions would bring in more foreign direct investments, which in turn would create more job and income opportunities for Filipinos.

The Mindanao lawmaker appealed to the Senate to approve the economic constitutional amendment proposals shortly after Congress reconvenes later this month.

“The fate of economic Charter reform is in the hands of our senators,” he said.

The PAHAYAG 2024 first quarter survey conducted by the PUBLiCUS Inc.

showed other major concerns of the President as inflation at 29 percent, corruption (12 percent), issues regarding China’s claim to the West Philippine Sea territory (11 percent), and perceptions of weak leadership (10 percent).

However, the poll also showed that 68 percent of Filipinos approve of Mr. Marcos’ initiative to shift the country’s energy usage to renewable energy, and 65 percent approval for his efforts in lowering rice prices. Additionally, approximately 4 in 10 Filipinos approve of the launching of Bagong Pilipinas.

Vice President Sara Duterte’s trust ratings were solid in Mindanao (88 percent), with other notable scores in Visayas (74.7 percent), Balance of Luzon (73.6 percent), and the National Capital Region (71.7 percent).

Senate President Zubiri’s trust and approval ratings showed his strongest support in Mindanao at 76.4 percent and 71.2 percent, respectively. Speaker Romualdez received his highest trust rating in Visayas with 80.1 percent, Mindanao at 76.4 percent, Balance of Luzon with 72.8 percent, and the National Capital Region, 71.2 percent.

Under the stewardship of Senate President Zubiri, the Senate of the Philippines has achieved a commendable trust rating of 83 percent and a job approval rating of 80 percent in the first quarter.

Concurrently, the House of Representatives, led by House Speaker Romualdez, has also garnered notable approval from the public, with a trust rating of 78 percent and a job satisfaction rating of 75 percent.

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