“Kung hindi ngayon, kailan?” – Garbin

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AKO Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., the chairman of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, posed this question Tuesday as he made another pitch for the proposal to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, which many believed have made the Philippines less attractive to foreign investments.

“Maraming nagtatanong, timing ba ang pag-propose ng amendments sa ating Konstitusyon? I always say that it is always the right time to do the right thing. I think this is the right time to propose these amendments to the Constitution,” Garbin said at the continuation of the hearing on Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2 filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Velasco’s resolution seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to certain economic provisions of the 34-year-old Charter, which restrict foreign ownership of land, natural resources, public utilities, educational institutions, media and advertising.

Such proposal would allow Congress to pass enabling laws that will relax restrictions on foreign ownership in order to boost foreign investments, which is critical to the country’s economic recovery.

RBH No. 2 provides that by a vote of three-fourths of all its members, the Senate and the House of Representatives voting separately could propose amendments to Articles 12, 14, and 16 of the Constitution.

During the hearing, Garbin also sought to allay doubts over the intention to amend the economic constitutional provisions which, he said, was to “help the economy recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Ang sentro lamang po ng discussion ay strictly economic provisions; wala pong term extension, wala pong lifting of term limits, wala pong political provisions,” Garbin assured.

A number of economists agreed that lifting foreign investment restrictions could improve foreign direct investment or FDI inflows into the Philippines, particularly in areas restricted in the Constitution.

Relaxing the economic Charter provisions, they said, would open the door to establish a platform for promoting stronger investments and a more inclusive economic development.

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