Cha-cha won’t automatically result in lifting economic restrictions — House leader

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — Restrictions on foreign business ownership will not automatically be lifted should the proposed amendments to the Constitution be ratified, the chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments said Sunday.

Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin said Charter change will only give the next Congresses the freedom to enact legislation that will be more responsive to economic conditions.

“It will not automatically lift the restriction, but if the circumstances so warrant, magkakaroon na ng paraan at kapangyarihan ang ating Kongreso (our Congress will have a way and power to do it). So whether to increase the foreign equity participation in the areas of national patrimony and economy, it will be debated upon by the next Congress,” Garbin said in a virtual forum.

Contrary to some critics’ claim, Garbin said there wouldn’t be a “wholesale” amendment of the Constitution. He reiterated his assurance that lawmakers will not touch the Constitution’s political provisions.

“When I come out with the committee report, that will solely and exclusively be for economic provisions only. And when it is referred to the plenary, ang debate pa rin ay naka-sentro sa economic provisions. And when ito’y pagbotohan on third reading, ang pagbobotohan pa rin ay economic provisions,” he said.

[Translation: And when it is referred to the plenary, the debate will still focus on the economic provisions. And even when voting will be done on third reading, what lawmakers will still be voting on is the economic provisions.]

Garbin also noted that whatever will be approved in the committee and in the plenary remains a proposal "until it is ratified by the Filipino people and the plebiscite called for that purpose.”

Garbin’s committee is set to hold another hearing on Tuesday on the proposed Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 authored by Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco. The measure seeks to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution by inserting the phrase, “unless otherwise provided by law.”

Resource persons invited to the hearing include representatives from the academe, joint foreign chambers, as well as economists.

Meanwhile, the Senate will have its first deliberation on economic Cha-cha on Wednesday, through a joint hearing by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Laws and the Committee on Economic Affairs.