MANILA - The resumption of House hearings on charter change has a political agenda despite assurances of congressmen to only open up economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, a lawmaker said Monday.
The chamber's recent passage of a bill expanding the Foreign Investment Act proves that there is no need to amend the Constitution, said Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
"Lumulutang talaga ang political agenda at ito ang dapat bantayan natin. This will be a divisive issue especially 18 months before the election at ito ang nilulutang ngayon," he told ANC's Headstart.
(There is political agenda and we should monitor this. This will be a divisive issue especially 18 months before the election and they are floating this now.)
"To make it palatable especially for business and to consolidate support for the administration sa business stakeholders kaya ito inuuna nila economic."
(They prioritized economic provisions to make it palatable especially for business and to consolidate support for the administration from business stakeholders.)
Zarate added that foreign chambers, during House hearings before the pandemic, said they only need "a level playing field when it comes to investments."
"Ang (The) number 1 problem they cited is graft and corruption and too much bureaucracy," he said.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Salvador Leachon said the constitutional assembly would only deal with the Joint House Resolution that tackles economic provisions.
"I’m not insinuating something but that’s the reality, if it’s a constituent assembly…when we say constituent assembly we’re open to amendment or revision," he said in a separate Headstart interview.
He added that it was "high-time" to revisit the Constitution's economic provisions during the pandemic, citing "high unemployment rate with businesses closing down, with limitation as to business opportunities."
"This is high-time, probably some other camps would question the timing but this is the normal time," he said.
"It calls for the right timing because if we will open economic provisions, there will be definitely great opportunities for investments to come in, it will help definitely generate employment, investments which actually are the much needed opportunities right now for the country."
Vice President Leni Robredo had said the timing of the resumption of House hearings on charter change was "wrong" as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted.
"During the pandemic, nakapasa tayo ng Anti-Terror Law. During the pandemic, napasara iyong ABS-CBN. Tapos ngayon na naman magcha-Charter Change tayo during the pandemic. Parang hindi pa ba tayo natututo?"
(During the pandemic, government passed the Anti-Terror Law, shut down ABS-CBN, and now we'll tackle charter change. Have we not learned anything?)