Charter change will be a big step towards economic recovery – DILG exec

Published February 3, 2021, 12:06 PM

by Chito Chavez

Amending the economic provision of the 1987 Constitution will help speed up the recovery process of the country amid the adverse impacts of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), an official of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Wednesday.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the approval of the House of Representatives the Resolution of Both Houses 2 (RBH 2) was an initial step to reinvigorate the country’s economy and would lead to faster and longer-term economic recovery.

“We are confident that the lifting of these restrictions would lead to the entry of more foreign investors and capital to pump-prime the economy and replace the jobs that were lost because of the pandemic,” said Malaya who is the Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reform (IATF-CORE) chairman.

The Resolution, authored by House speaker Lord Allan Velasco, was approved on Tuesday by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments with a vote of 62 ayes, three nays and three abstentions.

RBH 2 proposes to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to constitutional provisions that provides that only Filipino citizens can control, own, and/or lease alienable lands of public domain, natural resources, public utilities, educational institutions, mass media companies, and advertising companies in the Philippines

The phrase would empower lawmakers to legislate a law to lift the current prohibitions on foreign investors.

But the Committee dropped RBH 2’s previous proposal to allow foreigners to own private land in the Philippines.

“The passage of the resolution is one giant step towards achieving our goal of improving the investment climate of the country which has been curtailed for the past 34 years by the outdated economic provisions of the constitution and devastated by the global pandemic,” Malaya said.

The DILG official noted that the Constitution was written 34 years ago when the dominant idea was protectionism stressing that “the world has changed, and so must our laws.”

Stressing further, Malaya pointed out that opening the economy to foreign investors would yield more jobs, generate more funds for the treasury, and strengthen foreign partnerships for economic growth and sustainability.

He cited a study by the UP Research and Extension Services Foundation-Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development (UPPAF-RESPOND) which indicated that easing the constitutional provisions that bar foreign ownership of certain industries would cut down unemployment by 40 percent to a rate of 5.1 percent from 8.7 percent recorded in October 2019.

The House Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, in its study concluded that the passage of the economic amendments will create some 6.6 million jobs in 10 years as well as P330 billion in annual foreign direct investments.

“The approval would send a strong signal to the world that the Philippines, like other governments which instituted constitutional reforms, is now ready to provide an attractive investment climate and make the necessary adjustments in the economy to make progress trickle down to the poor,” Malaya

Malaya also assured that the DILG would help Congress in explaining to the people the benefits to be derived from lifting the economic restrictions in the 34-year-old Charter.