Leni, Alan hit for negative stand on Cha-cha

Published January 10, 2021, 4:20 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

A staunch ally of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco branded as “shortsighted” Sunday the seeming rejection of Vice President Leni Robredo and former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on the calls for Charter change (Cha-cha).

Alan Peter Cayetano (L) and Vice President Leni Robredo

Deputy Speaker and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza  described the two officials’ thumbing down of Cha-Cha at this juncture as “knee-jerk” reaction, or a methapor for automatic, unthinking response, in this case, a negative one.

“What the country needs now is visionary strategic leadership that looks ahead five to 10 years from now,” Atienza said in a statement.

Atienza called for “bold reforms in the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution” to enable the country to swiftly attract large-scale Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). He said these FDIs are “badly needed to rebuild Philippine industries shattered by the COVID-19 crisis.”

“We have to overhaul the restrictive provisions of our Constitution and lay the foundations of a new economy that is more welcoming if not totally welcoming to foreign investments,” said the former three-term Manila mayor.

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments is set to hold a hearing Wednesday on Resolution of Both Houses No.2 (RBH 2) which intends to do away with the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Velasco is the author of RBH 2.

“Foreign ownership of many of our industries is still limited up to 40 percent only. We must now relax these limits,” Atienza said.

“The national economy needs a powerful vaccine – a big shot in the arm by way of several billions of dollars in new foreign investments every year over the next five years,” he added.

Former Akbayan party-list Rep. Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesman, said last week that the country’s leaders should focus on securing local supply of anti-COVID vaccines instead of “wasting people’s time and money” on moves to revise the Constitution.

While Velasco’s erstwhile Speakership rival Cayetano didn’t give a flat rejection of Cha-cha like the Robredo camp, he stressed that Filipinos’ inoculation against COVID-19 should be the top priority.

“So sa akin, ibalik natin sa pinakaimportante sa ngayon, buhay at kabuhayan (For me, let’s go back to the most important thing right now, life and livelihood) And the single biggest factor now is the vaccination. So pagpasensyahan niyo na, hindi ko sasagutin ng diretso, ano ang stand, ano ang kailangan gawin dito. Any other issue naman na maisasabay natin na may benefit sa tao walang problema (So I’m sorry if I won’t answer directly what I think should be done. I have no problem with discussing anything that benefits the people),” Cayetano told reporters in a chance interview over the weekend.

“Pero any issue na madi-divide tayo at may ka-debate tayong matindi at mag-aaway-away tayong mga Pilipino and hihigupin ang ating energy, ilipat na lang natin dun sa vaccination (But if it’s an issue that will just end up dividing us and involve us in a contentious debate and sap all our energy, then let’s just pour that effort on vaccination instead),” he added.