House lawmakers pass 'economic Cha-cha' on final reading

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2021 09:27 PM

MANILA - Voting 251-21-2, the House of Representatives has adopted on third and final reading the Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH 2), which proposes amendments to the 1987 Constitution's economic provisions.

The measure proposes amending the 1987 Constitution to empower Congress in passing laws regulating the limits to foreign investments in the country.

The approval met the three-fourths vote requirement of the House. 

It will be transmitted to the Senate for its own consideration.

The House has drawn criticism for considering the amendment without physically convening a joint session with the Senate to form a constituent assembly. 

House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chair, AKO Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin had maintained there is no such requirement for the Constitution which allows them to conduct deliberations and vote on the measure and transmit it to the Senate if they approve it.

RBH 2 seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to parts of Articles 12, 14 and 16 of the Constitution. 

That’s sections 2, 3, 7, 10, and 11 or Article 12, Sec 4.2 of Article 14 and Section 11 of Article 16. However, RBH 2 does not empower Congress to regulate the ban on foreign ownership of land in the country.

The House began plenary deliberations on the measure on Feb. 22 and was approved on 2nd reading last week

Garbin, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, and Senior Deputy Minority Leader, Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo served as plenary sponsors. 

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the resolution aimed to "purely help our country rise above this pandemic through liberalizing the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution." 

Velasco said the said restrictive provisions prevented the Philippines from being "fully competitive" wits its neighbors.

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"As global economies slowly bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines must be ready to ride the wave or risk being left behind by its Asian neighbors," he said. 

Salceda hailed the approval on third reading of the proposed charter amendments, believing that there is time to complete the legislative process in the proposal “in time for plebiscite in 2022.” 

He also renewed calls for the Senate to pass its own counterpart measure.

The Senate last week downplayed chances of the resolution reaching the chamber, citing time constraints.