A member of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives appealed for bipartisan support for the passage of Resolution of Both Houses Number 2 (RBH 2) proposing to lift restrictive provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
As the chamber prepared to hold debates on the legislative measure filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo said amendments to the 34-year-old Charter are “long overdue”, adding that recalibration of its provisions is necessary.
Last week, Quimbo sponsored RBH 02 on the floor, pointing out the strong arguments that support the proposal.
Responding to critics who said that amending the Constitution is “untimely”, Quimbo stressed that she will not argue to the claim.
“I agree because it is in fact overdue,” she stressed.
The former University of the Philippines professor pointed out that even the framers of the 1987 Constitution agree that the law of the land should be reviewed after five years, and not five decades.
Stressing that the economic provisions of the Constitution were not meant to be “fixed forever,” Quimbo pointed out that in hearings on RBH 2, former Supreme Court Justice Adolfo Azcuna––who helped draft both the 1971 and 1986 constitutions––told the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments that “I believe we intended the economic revisions to last not more than five years.”
The opposition solon added that Azcuna had clarified that the members of the Constitutional Commission “wanted the Constitution to be untouched really for five years, including the economic provisions, to see if it works; I think with 30 years of experience, it is time to recalibrate.”
The lawmaker informed members of the House that in 2019, even before the pandemic, “we fell behind Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam in terms of attracting FDI (foreign direct investment) inflows.”
“This is perhaps to be expected since according to the OECD’s FDI regulatory restrictiveness index, the Philippines has the most restrictive economy in the ASEAN where FDI is concerned. In fact, the Philippines ranked the fourth lowest out of 87 countries around the world,” she explained.
Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority on Wednesday revealed that in 2020, approved FDI pledges dropped to its worst level in three years, as foreign investment pledges approved by the country’s investment promotion agencies amounted to P112.12 billion, down by 71.3 percent from 2019.
According to Quimbo, “to be sure, opening up the economy to foreign investments is not the only thing we need to do to promote economic growth and development; we have a long to do list that includes investing in infrastructure, reducing the cost of power, eliminating corruption, reducing red tape, and ensuring that the rule of law prevails. But the necessary first step is to remove the restrictive economic provisions in our Constitution––or else, we risk being left further behind.
“This resolution is one necessary step towards the creation of a fairer and more dynamic business environment––one geared towards maximizing benefits for the Filipino people.”