Gabriela solon claims Duterte certification of economic bills a ‘piecemeal Cha-cha’

Published April 15, 2021, 5:46 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Gabriela Women’ Party Representative Arlene Brosas claimed on Thursday, April 15, that the three economic bills recently certified by President Duterte as urgent are part of the efforts to push for a “piecemeal Charter change (Cha-cha)”.

Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas

During the weekly presser of the Makabayan bloc in House of Representatives, Brosas hit Duterte’s certification of the Senate bills proposing amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization.

“Piecemeal Cha-cha itong cinertify as urgent at pinapamadaling ipasa ni Pangulong Duterte na tatlong economic measures (This three economic measures that Duterte certified as urgent and wants passed immediately are a piecemeal Cha-cha),” the progressive lawmaker said.

“Dahil bigo silang makumbinsi ang sambayanan sa Cha-cha kahit may pandemya, gusto ni Duterte na ipasa na ng Senado ang mga panukalang ito ( Because they failed to convince the people on Cha-cha amid the pandemic, Duterte wants the Senate to pass these proposals),” she added.

Brosas argued that the bills were geared towards easing the entry of foreign businesses in the country, which could be detrimental to small local businesses.

“Kapag naisabatas ang mga ito, lalong kawawa ang mga maliliit na lokal na negosyo (If these bills are passed, small local businesses would all the more be put at a disadvantage),” she lamented.

“Talagang inuna pa ang interes ng dayuhan at hindi pinapakinggan ang panawagang unahin ang panawagang P10,000 ayuda, paid pandemic leave at sapat na tulong sa ating MSMEs. Ayan pala ang ‘trinabaho’ ng Pangulo sa kanyang staycation (The government is really prioritizing foreigners and is refusing to heed the calls for a P10,000 cash aid, paid pandemic leave and adequate assistance to micro, small, and medium enterprises. That is what the President worked on during his staycation),” Brosas said, referring to Duterte’s absence from public eye last week amid the spike in COVID-19 cases and issues in the West Philippines Sea.

The House has been discussing the proposal to amend the “restrictive” provisions of the 1987 Constitution to attract foreign investments. Senators, however, seemed cold to the proposed Cha-cha due to its timing.

Government economic managers earlier asked President Duterte to certify as urgent Senate Bills No. 2094, 1156 and 1840, to further open the domestic economy to foreign investments following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte, in his certification, said this would “provide more conducive investment climate, increase job opportunities, foster more competition and further spur the country’s economic growth.”

SB No. 2094 seeks to amend the 84-year-old Public Services Act to relax foreign equity restrictions in public service industries, such as telecommunications and transportation.

SB 1156, meanwhile, proposes to lower the minimum paid-in capital for foreign investors to establish small or medium-sized enterprises in the country.

Meanwhile, SB 1840 seeks to open up the retail sector to foreign enterprises.

The three measures have been approved in the House of Representatives.