This year’s first hearing of the House of Representatives showed an “overwhelming support” to the effort to lift certain restrictions in the economic provisions of the 34-year-old Constitution, according to a top official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“The support for economic constitutional reform during the first hearing of the House of Representatives was not split. It was overwhelmingly in favor. Among the economists/experts invited, only the left-wing Ibon Foundation opposed it. The rest, Dr. Sicat, Dr. Fabella, Sec. Pernia, Mr. Chikiamko, Sec. Olivar threw their support behind it,” said DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.
“In fact, UP Economics Professor Emeritus Gerardo Sicat called the restrictive economic provisions as the ‘original sin’ that has hampered the economic development of the country for more than 3 decades,” he said.
Malaya defended the renewed push for a constitutional amendment saying that there is a growing consensus among our Congressional leaders to push for it.
“The bipartisan support is also self-evident,” Malaya said. “The leaders of the various political parties have crossed party lines to support this effort like namely PDP-Laban, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, National Unity Party, Lakas-NUCD, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc., and even some members of the Liberal Party,” he added.
At the center of deliberations at the House of Representatives is Resolution of Both Houses (RH) No. 2 filed by Speaker Allan Velasco. The Resolution seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to the constitutional restrictions that limit foreign investors’ participation in the economy.
RBH 2 would call both the House and the Senate to convene into a Constituent Assembly, one of the 3 allowed modes to change the Constitution, to amend these economic provisions.
He also said that the Congressional support mirrors the situation on the ground where there is growing public support for a more open economy to foreign investment.
“The 72 provincial roadshows that the DILG conducted across the country showed that if we explain to them why we are pushing for it and what are its benefits, the public will support it,” he said.
Malaya submitted to Congress more than 500,000 signatures gathered during the provincial roadshows and through on-line activities.
“There is strong public support for amending the Constitution. And we saw this when we did the campaign on the ground. We did activities in the field; that’s why we were able to raise all of these signatures,” said Malaya.
He said that Congress could verify the signatures submitted to them if they wish and that all the contact details were submitted to the House of Representatives.