By Billy Begas
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte has welcomed the move of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments to fast-track the discussions on proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution.
“We welcome the decision of the House leadership to put on the fast lane, along with the remaining priority bills drawn up by the Congress and President Marcos last October, separate proposals to at last reform the 1987 Constitution,” said Villafuerte in a statement on Sunday.
Villafuerte is the author of House Bill 4926, which calls for the election of delegates for the Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) who will be tasked to amend the 1987 Constitution simultaneously with the October 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections.
Before the Christmas break, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez bared the plan of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments to start marathon hearings on January 26 on the pending Charter change bills.
“It’s about time to introduce changes to the antiquated and inapt provisions of our 1987 Charter, which has long been crying for reforms,” said Villafuerte, who is president of the National Unity Party (NUP), the second largest party in Congress.
Villafuerte said the “clamor for Charter Change has always been relevant” but “calls for genuine constitutional reforms have taken a backseat because of perceived controversies and allegations of corruption in previous administrations.”
“Filipinos, meanwhile, take severe punishment from corruption, high prices, inequitable distribution of income, and a lopsided playing field when it comes to foreign investments,” the solon stressed. “Thus, while it is a given that the present Charter needs to go through the process of amendment and/or revision, this should be done with much deliberation and in a transparent and trustworthy atmosphere.”
He said the Constitution’s “inward-looking, overly protective” provisions on the economy are “believed responsible for handcuffing the Philippines from becoming an investment haven despite its pre-pandemic rise as one of Asia’s economic star.”
Instead of choosing the Philippines, Villafuerte said foreign investors are going to Vietnam or Thailand “because of our restrictive constitutional provisions that limit foreigners to a maximum 40%-participation in certain local businesses that are attractive to foreign investors.”