Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte on Saturday, May 15, said he is perplexed as to why the leadership of the House of Representatives insists on “squandering” the chamber’s time on Charter Change (Cha-cha) when the 18th Congress resumes session Monday.
Villafuerte said lawmakers’ energy should be better spent on assisting the national government in defeating COVID-19 and revitalizing the economy.
He said that instead of focusing on Cha-cha, the House should work on, among others, making sure that Filipino families get P10,000 each in one installment under the proposed third Bayanihan law, to let vulnerable families cope with the economic shock of COVID-19 and, in turn, boost household spending nationwide.
“We should now start our stimulus program from the ground up. The Congress has already passed several stimulus measures through the Republic Act (RA) No. 11465, or Bayanihan 2, and other laws for both small and big businesses. We should pour financial resources this time with helping Filipino families rebuild their pandemic-hit lives instead of wasting our time with reviving this unproductive Cha-cha exercise,” he explained.
The congressman, an ally of former House speaker and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, was reacting to reports that the House is targeting to approve on third and final reading the proposed “economic Cha-cha” before the sine die adjournment of the Congress on June 14.
Villafuerte said that other pending measures are “immediately doable” unlike Cha-cha, which he stressed would require the tedious process of determining the method of how the proposed constitutional amendments should be introduced and discussed.
He further said that current proposal in the House to lift prohibitive economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution — the Resolution of Both House (RHB) No. 2 authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco — would ultimately be decided by Filipinos in a plebiscite come May 2022 yet.
He added that Cha-cha “would not actually bring about immediate reform that could help in the ongoing economic recovery efforts”, since the current House proposal to ease constitutional restrictions on foreign participation in businesses does not directly empower the Congress to immediately relax investment-related provisions of the Constitution.
Villafuerte, instead, referred to the bills seeking to amend the Public Service Act (PSA), Foreign Investments Act (FIA) and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), which President Duterte had certified as urgent.
“These bills will complement the enacted stimulus measures that will help reinvigorate the economy and return it to its pre-pandemic growth trajectory,” Villafuerte said.
“They will liberalize the economy, attract more FDIs and create more jobs,’’ he added.