That Charter contains restrictive economic provisions is no longer a debate topic – Garbin

Published March 14, 2021, 9:09 PM

by Ben Rosario

As plenary debates on the Charter change bid continue in the House of Representatives, its principal proponent expressed confidence that majority in the chamber agree that the 1987 Constitution indeed restricts economic progress in the country.

Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, said the proposal to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in restrictive economic provisions is the best way to address the situation.

Garbin said Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 would empower Congress to assess and evaluate prevailing economic factors before determining the wisdom of opening up certain sectors of the economy.

The partylist lawmaker said in recent plenary deliberations that “at present, the way the Constitution’s economic provisions are phrased, there is no leeway in matters such as foreign equity restrictions.” The lawmaker explained that “right now, there can be no debate on this as the restrictions are mandated by the law of the land; it is a dead end, so to speak.” “With RBH 2 (Resolution of Both Houses Number 2), we will insert a door, but we will not automatically open it for foreign investors; we will simply allow them to knock––and it is up to us in Congress to let them in if we believe this is to our benefit.” Garbin thanked his colleagues in the House for raising issues about the wisdom of easing the economic provisions of the 1987 Charter, particularly the pros and cons of liberalizing the economy.

“We welcome the points raised by our esteemed colleagues from the Makabayan Bloc and my kababayan Manong Edcel [Lagman] regarding FDI (foreign direct investments) and economic liberalization,” he said.

Garbin explained: ”But these exchanges illustrate our point: these are issues that Congress would be allowed to debate and would be allowed to study if we are given the power to pass proposed legislation that would open our economy.” The plenary deliberations will continue this week but supporters of RBH No. 2 are confident measure will be voted upon before the March 24 summer adjournment.