Padilla: Amending eco provisions in Constitution key to unlocking RCEP benefits  

Senator Robinhood "Robin" C. Padilla wants the Senate-ratified Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to benefit Filipino farmers.

Padilla, however, maintained that amending the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution should be the key to achieving this.

He said that while RCEP - like earlier international trade agreements the Philippines entered into - might facilitate the entry of foreign goods, the entry of investments might be limited due to the Constitution's 40 percent restriction on foreign investments.

"Kung binaha tayo ng produkto nila, bahain dapat tayo ng investment nila (If foreign goods enter the Philippines due to the RCEP, so should foreign investments). Pinayagan natin sila magbaha ng produkto dito pero di kayo pwede mag-invest 

(Yet we allow the entry of foreign goods but not so much on investments)," he said at a media forum in Manila.

"Paanong maging competitive tayo kung ang Constitution natin ay obsolete (How can we become competitive if our Constitution is obsolete)?" he asked.\

Also, Padilla voiced concerns that if RCEP is not properly implemented, it could have a similar effect on farmers as the Rice Tariffication Law, which allowed the importation of rice and allowed palay prices to drop.

Padilla is seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution's economic provisions to allow the entry of foreign investments, which are restricted to a maximum of 40 percent.

In his Resolution of Both Houses No. 3, he proposed that this be done through a Constituent Assembly (Con Ass) with members of the Senate and House of Representatives voting separately.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, he is planning public consultations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao - including Baguio City, Cebu, and Davao City - starting March 2 in Davao.

Meanwhile, Padilla maintained he favors a Constituent Assembly as the most practical way of amending the Charter's economic provisions, with members of both houses of Congress voting separately.

‘’A constitutional convention is independent, with delegates voted by the people. But as former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said, we cannot control who the delegates will be - they could be relatives of a sitting lawmaker or a dummy of an oligarch. If this happens, we may be wasting time and funds)," he said.

‘’The Constitution should be updated for the age of artificial intelligence, it must adjust to the times. It pains me to say this but our Constitution has fallen behind, like stagnant water - when it should be flowing along with the passage of time," he added.