The House of Representatives leadership wants the ongoing Charter Change (Cha-cha) discussions to have "special focus" on lifting the restrictive economic provisions of the 36-year-old Constitution.
This was confirmed Friday, Feb.10 by Cagayan de Oro 2nd district Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments during the first leg of the out of town public consultations on the various pending pro-Cha-cha measures filed in the 19th Congress.
Friday's public consultation took place at the USTP Gymnasium in Cagayan de Oro City.
"We are here so that we can inform our good people of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, Region X, what are the proposals, what are the pending bills and resolutions in the Committee on Constitutional Amendments on the bills and resolutions in the regard to the possible ammendment of the Constitution," Rodriguez said.
"We believe that we should have these particular amendments with special focus--this is just my and the leadership's feeling--that focus will be on economic provisions," he noted.
"As you see, the President, we met him the other day, during the Constitution--Philconsa day, and we had a brief huddle with our Speaker , President Bongbong Marcos before he left for Japan, hosted the Philconsa Philippine Constitution Day, the other day," recalled the panel chairman.
Philconsa stands for Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa). Romualdez is the group's president.
According to Rodriguez, the foreign businessmen that Marcos have been wooing in his various trips abroad have lamented the Philippines' restrictive Constitution.
"Because the President is our--the best salesman of our country. And he would invite the businessmen to come and invest in our country, to provide more job opportunities to our people," the Mindanao lawmaker said.
"And the problem is--and the Speaker is very, very much concerned about this--after the President talks and he would meet with the other businessmen, and they would say, 'You know Speaker, we would like to come to the Philippines but your Constitution limits our participation, our equity.'"
Turning to the participants of the public consultation, Rodriquez said: "We will also listen if you have political amendments . But the focus really now is to make sure that after the President invites the businessmen of the world, that our country is open for business by lifitng the prohibitions and limitations of the 1987 Philippine Constitution."
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Rodriguez claimed that potential foreign investors are turned off by the 40 percent maximum share allowed to them by the Constitution when they do business in the Philippines.
The solon said this means that these investors would only be a minority owner and would have practically "no say" in the local business.
"So 40 percent maximum for public utilities, developed natural resources, and education. We lose the privilege of having big, noted universities in the US (United States) and Europe to come here...Advertising, only 30 percent. And media, zero," he said, pointing to the economic provisions.
The Rodriguez panel has carried out three public hearings on Cha-cha in the House of Representatives since December. For now, though, the panel will be listening to the opinion of people from the countryside.
"We will continue to meet our people as the need arises," Rodriguez said, noting that there are also scheduled public consultations in Iloilo, Pampanga, and Bulacan in the coming weeks.