Makati Business Club, other biz groups express support for charter change

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2018 10:17 PM

MANILA -- The Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines expressed their "strong support" to amend certain provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

In a joint statement, the three organizations presented their recommendations regarding the ongoing discussion on constitutional amendments.

One of the issues supported by the groups is the proposal to open more business areas to foreign investors.

"We wish to state our strong support for Resolution of Both Houses 2 (RBH2) Proposing Amendments to certain Economic Provisions of the 1987 Constitution particularly to Articles XII, XIV and XVI, principally authored by House of Representative Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. The resolution seeks to include the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" in some sections of Articles XII (national economy and patrimony), XIV (education, science and technology, arts, culture and sports), and XVI (general provisions). The proposal is aligned with the Duterte Administration's push to lift the economic restrictions in the Constitution, in order to open more business areas to foreign investors," the statement said.

"Increasing the participation of foreigners in our economy would be a welcome development as it would mean a fresh infusion of financial resources for our undercapitalized sectors, the introduction of new technologies to spur greater innovation and efficiency in our industries, and the promotion of healthy competition that will drive businesses to operate more efficiently, leading to better quality and more competitively priced products and services for the people," it added.

The groups also voiced their support to having the two Houses vote separately "so as to recognize the autonomy of the Senate body and to avoid diluting the voice of our senators in this critical process."

The MBC, MAP and FINEX are pushing for a constitutional convention as "the appropriate body to amend the Constitution."

"While there are other modes that are also legally prescribed paths to revision, we feel that a Con-con will offer a more diverse, independent and prospective approach," they added.

Meanwhile, Southern Leyte Lone District Representative Roger Mercado, the chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, reiterated the need for a federal charter.

According to Mercado, changing the country's constitution into a federal charter can "prevent the repeat of dictatorship."

"We are going through all this trouble to produce a charter that is much better than the 1987 Constitution because we want to prove to future generations of Filipinos and to the world that it was this 17th Congress and the Duterte presidency that had the political will to build upon the successes and strengths of Philippine democracy," he said in a statement.

Mercado added that a federal constitution will give Filipinos more safeguards against dictatorship.

"A federal constitution will precisely give even more safeguards against dictatorship because of the dispersal or sharing of executive power, by dismantling the vestiges of Imperial Manila."

The lawmaker also asked the public to voice out their concerns to prevent political dynasties from abusing federalism.

"There are many concerns about federalism being abused by political dynasties. To address these concerns, we then ask the various sectors to seize the opportunity of this very public debate on charter change to present their proposals on how to convince non-traditional candidates to venture into politics and public service. Let us then give voters more options. Let us give new breeds of public servants the opportunities to enter politics," Mercado said.