February 24, 2024

House, Senate now in ‘constructive phase’ on economic Charter reform

HOUSE leaders on Monday said the House of Representatives and the Senate are now in a “constructive phase” on economic Charter reform following last Thursday’s speech of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on the need and urgency of amending the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution.

In a press conference, Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, Deputy Speaker David “Jayjay” Suarez, Ways and Means chair Rep. Joey Salceda, and Appropriations panel senior vice chairperson Rep. Stella Quimbo of Marikina City said their colleagues will all submit to the will of the President.

“Ang masasabi ko lang, it’s very loud and clear from the President (on his desire to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution). We will follow the President. The Speaker (Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez) will follow the President. At kami pong lahat na miyembro dito sa House of Representatives (will follow the President),” Gonzales said after last week’s pronouncement by Marcos that introducing reforms to the Constitution will be limited only to economic provisions deemed as restrictive by foreign investors.

The Chief Executive laid down his directive during the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) event in observation of the Constitution Day 2024 in Makati City last Thursday.

“Ito na ‘yung discussion. Ito na ‘yung sinasabi ni Presidente na healthy democratic discussion ng ating (constitutional) economic provisions. Ngayon pong oras na ito ay naghi-hearing na sa Senado, sana ay magtugma na itong pinag-uusapan natin para dito sa ating dream na Charter change sa economic provisions,” Gonzales said.

Meanwhile, Salceda said the House would henceforth be guided by the President’s statements on amending the Charter.

“Follow the President! ‘Yun po talaga ang suma total nitong usapin sa ngayon. The House will follow the president, period. So let there be no ambiguity about it, of the direction of the House, of what the House will do. We will follow the President in his latest speech,” Salceda said.

Suarez said that as for the timeline, President Marcos said he wants the country to achieve middle-income status by 2025.

“When the President gave a date and a clear goal, it is up to the Legislative Branch to cooperate and to make sure that objective is met,” Suarez said, saying that the ideal time for the Senate to pass any measure that will amend the Constitution is within the next few months.

“Para masiguro natin na by 2025, ‘yung ninanais ng ating Pangulo ay makamit ng ating bansa,” he added.

Quimbo, for her part, said members of the House need to engage with their counterparts in the Senate in meaningful debate when it comes to the need to amend the Constitution on its restrictive economic provisions.

“Klaro naman po sa sinabi ng Presidente, ang kailangan po natin sa ngayon – at very clear ang sinabi ng Presidente – healthy and democratic debate (on the need to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution),” Quimbo said.

“So hindi po tayo pwedeng manahimik dahil napakaimportante po ng problemang hinaharap natin. Kulang ang trabaho, kulang ang kapital. Kung hindi natin ito aaksyunan, patuloy pong aalis ang ating mga kababayan para lamang masuportahan ang mga pamilya nila,” she added.

Salceda said the Chief Executive made it clear that “we need to change the economic provisions, and second, that we will limit the national conversation to economic provisions.”

“So, klarong-klaro na siguro ang kailangang pag-usapan at klarong klaro na rin kung anong gagawin po ng House. So, ibig sabihin niyan tigil na muna ang PI (people’s initiative) para mawala po ‘yung duda na mahaluan ng politika, kase klaro namang sinabi ni Presidente, ‘Hoy! hanggang economics lang kayo’,” Salceda said.

“So, ibig sabihin we are getting through a more constructive process in the relationship between the House and the Senate, but siyempre may mga komplikasyon po diyan dahil nga po kung siyempre hindi rin mawawala na baka masyadong patagalin o masayang ‘yung panahon, sinabi na nga po ni Chairman Stella na ito’y very urgent na dahil ang kompetisyon sa buong mundo, dahil kung titingnan mo ‘yung buong mundo sumisikip dahil nga po doon sa mga pinataas na interest rate ng US,” he said.