Given the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the Philippine economy, removing the restrictive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution would be a significant factor in revving up the economy and sustaining its recovery from the pandemic.
Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, executive director of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Amendments, stressed this in today’s first public hearing by the Senate constitutional amendments committee chaired by Senator Francis Pangilinan on proposals to amend the ‘’restrictive’’ economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution and other provisions.
‘’The lifting of the restrictive economic provisions would allow us to have an adaptable economic policy regime in this crucial period in our nation’s history rather than being tied down to a set of fixed set of policies,’’ Malaya said.
Malaya stressed that for the country to fully recover from the pandemic, ‘’we must open up to the economy to achieve a truly inclusive investments-led economic growth that will create more jobs to our people.’’
He pointed out that restrictions: a) make it harder to create jobs; b) limit Philippine competitiveness; c) outdated and inflexible; and that the Philippines is one of the most restrictive economies. Removing the restrictions will allow the Philippines to obtain the benefits of foreign direct investments (FDI) at the soonest possible time, he added.
Malaya said lifting the restrictive economic provisions, together with the enactment of other laws (CREATE bill, amendments to PSA and RLTA, etc.), will form an effective combination to increase country’s competitiveness and surpass levels of FDI achieved by our neighbors.
On the mode of amending the Constitution, Malaya pointed out that the experience of older democracies is that legislative action through a constituent assembly of both Houses of the Legislature isthe most expeditious manner to change the Constitution.
‘’Legislative action as mode of constitutional reform did not disrupt the continuity of their political and constitutional systems. The US did not convene a Con Con every time they wanted to amend their constitution. In France, members of the parliament propose amendments to the Constitution as do many other countries,’’ he said.
Malaya said the Con Ass would be the preferred, ideal and proper mode to lift the restrictive economic provisions of the Charter.
‘’As to timeline, we leave it to the wisdom of congress but we propose that the referendum on the proposed amendments be done simultaneously with the 2022 elections.,’’ Malaya said.
‘’Since Congress is a bicameral body, with separate membership and rules, it stands to reason that they should vote separately,’’ he explained.