While in executive session, House panel OKs charter change

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2019 03:56 PM | Updated as of Dec 12 2019 06:13 PM

MANILA - After the House of Representatives approved the 2020 national budget on Wednesday, members of the chamber’s Committee on Constitutional Amendments voted to approve 4 proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution for the consideration of full House.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the committee, said the following amendments were approved in an executive session: 

  • empowering Congress to relax the limits to foreign investments in the country by mere legislation
  • tandem voting for the president and vice-president
  • 5-year terms for senators, congressmen and local executives with a maximum of 3 consecutive terms
  • election of senators by region with 3 senators per region and the country divided into 9 regions

Rodriguez dismissed concerns by the Makabayan bloc that relaxing the limits to foreign investments would be dangerous. 

"It's about time to be able to encourage more foreign investments, we need these to have more taxes for the government for the employment of more Filipinos," he said.

For tandem voting for president and vice president, Rodriguez said this was to “assure there is unanimity and cohesiveness in the 2 offices of the country."

Rodriguez quashed criticism on extending the terms of lawmakers, saying three terms are "too short" to implement projects.

”We are increasing the term but this will apply after the 2022 election, we cannot benefit from this additional term the present congressmen and congresswomen," he said.

Rodriguez, meantime, said the panel's approval of the proposals in an executive session was not hidden from scrutiny since the opposition was there.

”It will be open to all of you in the plenary. Wala tayo tinatago, in fact, 6 of the Makabayan bloc was there.”

Under the 1987 Constitution, the Congress may propose amendments to the constitution through 3/4 vote of its members so it can be sent to the electorate for final approval in a plebiscite.

Any approval done by the committee will have to be submitted to the full House for further action.