555,610 signatures for Cha-cha submitted

Published January 13, 2021, 6:16 PM

by Chito Chavez

Some 555,610 signatures and local government units (LGUs) resolutions were submitted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments on Wednesday which supports the lifting of the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution.

“The DILG conducted roadshows all over the country in 2019 and last year pre-COVID and we can definitely say that there is growing public support to reforms in the 1987 Constitutions especially the lifting of restrictive economic provisions to encourage foreign capital flow and investments into the country,” said DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya

Malaya said that making the Constitution more open to foreign investors would improve public perception of the country’s investment climate and set the tone for other institutions.

He noted the Philippines cannot be seen as a truly open economy when its fundamental law is protectionist and inward-looking, rigid and inflexible in structure.

Malaya stressed that it is better to remove citizenship-based restrictions now, instead of allowing them to continue, but with the caveat “unless otherwise provided by law.’’

If not for COVID, Malaya said “we could have gathered more signatures but because the DILG turned its attention to the pandemic, we migrated our signature campaign on-line and relied on our CSO-partners starting March of 2020.”

Malaya, who is also Executive Director of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reform, said that the signatures were culled from off-line and on-line campaigns which was spearheaded by the DILG, CORE (Constitutional Reform) Movement, along with various civil society groups, private groups, and individuals.

“Those (physical) signatures were gathered during our provincial roadshows which started in 2019 up to 2020 before the pandemic hit and now online signature campaign where we brought people in an online platform,” Malaya noted.

The previous roadshows consisted of town hall meetings, youth assemblies, CORE conventions, and media fora meant to inform the public on the merits of constitutional amendments.

Malaya also presented a resolution of support for CORE by the 1,488-member strong League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and 23 LGU resolutions from Regions 6, 10, 11, and Caraga.

In July 2020, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) National President Luis “Chavit’’ Singson turned over to DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año a resolution endorsing a proposal to institutionalize the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court in the Constitution and called for the lifting of restrictions on foreign investment in industries currently limited to Filipinos.

The IATF CORE is pushing for economic liberalization to allow foreign investors to engage in industrial and commercial activities that had been restricted to Filipinos since the 1935 Constitution took effect.

“If we had spread out development to other regions instead of concentrating everything in Metro Manila, then the pandemic would not have crippled the entire Philippine economy and so stronger economies in the regions could strengthen the LGUs’ capabilities and increase protection for our people,” Malaya explained.

The House of Representatives resumed on Jan. 13 its public hearing on constitutional reforms although lawmakers were quick to stress that the discussions would only focus on the economic provisions in the Constitution.

Malaya further said that positive reforms in the Constitution would send a signal to the international business community that the Philippines is now open for a globally competitive economy.

He also expressed confidence that Congress would pass economic reforms in the end to pave the way for the country’s recovery from the pandemic for the long haul.