House leaders agree to dance to Velasco’s Cha-cha

Philstar
January 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Leaders of political parties and blocs in the House of Representatives have agreed to support Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s (Marinduque) push to amend “restrictive” economic provisions in the Constitution.

The “consensus” among political leaders in the House was reached during a caucus presided by Velasco on Tuesday, a day before the House constitutional amendments committee restarts discussions on charter change.

“There is a strong and united consensus among political leaders in the House to back Speaker Velasco’s initiative towards liberalizing the economic provisions in the Constitution,” Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon party-list) said.

The lawmakers present at the caucus represent major political parties and blocs in the House, particularly the ruling PDP-Laban, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the Nacionalista Party, the National Unity Party, Lakas-NUCD, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the Liberal Party and the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc.

Aside from Velasco and Herrera-Dy, the following lawmakers were physically present at the meeting:

  • Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero (1-PACMAN party-list)
  • Deputy Speaker Kristine Singson Meehan (Ilocos Sur)
  • Deputy Speaker Wes Gatchalian (Valenzuela)
  • Rep. Mark Enverga (Quezon)
  • Rep. Kit Belmonte (Quezon City)
  • Rep. Francisco Benitez (Negros Occidental)
  • Rep. Alfredo Garbin (AKO BICOL party-list)

Lawmakers present via teleconferencing were:

  • Deputy Speaker Doy Leachon (Oriental Mindoro)
  • Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno (Antipolo City)
  • Deputy Speaker Munir Arbison (Sulu)
  • Deputy Speaker Eric Martinez (Valenzuela City)
  • Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte)
  • Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod party-list)
  • Rep. Mikey Arroyo (Pampanga)
  • Rep. Isidro Ungab (Davao City)
  • Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (Surigao del Norte)
  • Rep. Michael John Duavit (Rizal)
  • Rep. Joet Garcia (Bataan)
  • Rep. Rommel Angara (Aurora)
  • Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan)
  • Rep. Eileen Ermita-BUhain (Batangas)
  • Rep. Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA party-list)
  • Rep. Stella Quimbo (Marikina City)

Limited to economic provisions?

Garbin, who chairs the House constitutional amendments committee, reiterated that proposed amendments to the Constitution would be limited to economic provisions.

However, political science professor Jean Franco and constitutional law professor Tony La Viña previously told Philstar.com that any changes can be made to the Constitution once it is opened up for amendments or revisions.

“Nobody can limit whatever changes people can propose,” La Viña said in an interview.

Velasco’s proposal, or Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, seeks to allow Congress to lift the constitutional restrictions on foreign investments in land, natural resources, public utilities, educational institutions, media and advertising.

He wants this done by inserting the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the provisions, which would give Congress the leeway to pass laws to change the constitutional requirements.

Velasco hopes to finish debates on charter change before the end of 2021 and present it to Filipinos for ratification in the 2022 elections.

As It Happens

LATEST UPDATE: January 10, 2021 - 11:35am

The consultative committee, tasked with drafting a new constitution, eyes the removal of the impeachment power of Congress over justices of the Constitutional Court, one of the proposed three Supreme Courts under the draft charter.

READ: Concom eyes 3 supreme courts

Concom proposes that the impeachment of justices in Constitutional Court be decided instead by the 15-member Supreme Court.

The proposed Constitutional Court will have a presiding justice appointed by the Supreme Court and six associate justices with two appointees each from three branches of government.

— with Edu Punay

January 10, 2021 - 11:35am

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco says he wants to "liberalize the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution" upon authoring Resolution of Both Houses 2, that seeks to emdn the 1987 Constitution.

The House leader adds that they propose to amend certain sections of Articles XII (National Patrimony and Economy),  XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports) and XVI (General Provisions) to add the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law."

"As global economies slowly start to reopen, we cannot allow the Philippines to lag behind in terms of investments and opportunities. We need to seize the momentum if we are to fully recover from the economic devastation of COVID-19," Velasco says in a statement.

January 6, 2021 - 9:12pm

Two senators have filed a resolution to convene the 18th Congress as a constituent assembly to introduce limited amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

Sens. Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 on December 7, which seeks to revise the constitution "limited to the provisions on democratic representation and the economic provisions of the Constitution."

"WHEREAS, against the backdrop mounting economic and health concerns brought about by the pandemic, it is important to ensure that the subsequent national policies and strategies for the rehabilitation of our nation be responsive to the needs of our people in order to bring about genuine economic growth and sustainable development," the resolution reads.

January 6, 2021 - 8:46pm

House of Representatives leaders meet on Wednesday to discuss Charter change. 

House constitutional amendments panel chair Alfredo Garbin tells Philstar.com that Speaker Lord Allan Velasco gave a directive to tackle proposed amendments to restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution.

"It’s long overdue, ours is a 33-year-old Constitution of which it’s restrictive economic provisions no longer conforms to the needs of time," Garbin says. —  Xave Gregorio

September 28, 2020 - 3:54pm

President Duterte does not intend to stay in power beyond his term, Malacañang said yesterday, as it maintained that the 2022 elections can only be postponed if the 1987 Constitution is amended.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque says the only elections that can be deferred are those that are not stated in the constitution like the barangay polls.

"It (postponing the 2022 elections) can never be an option for Malacañang unless the Constitution is amended," Roque says, noting that the Constitution specifies the date of the election of the President, Vice President, representatives, and senators.

"The President is not interested in extending his term and he leaves it to the Filipino people, the sovereign people, to decide if they want to amend the Constitution to postpone the elections," he adds.

The constitution states that the regular election for President, Vice-President, senators, and members of the House of Representatives shall be held on the second Monday of May. — The STAR/Alexis Romero

December 16, 2019 - 1:57pm

An attempt at the House of Representatives to change the 1987 Constitution to give local officials five-year terms will not prosper in the upper house of Congress, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says Monday. 

"If the House of Representatives would insist on passing Cha-cha, make it a point to include their return address, because the Senate and the Filipino people will not accept it," he says in a press statement.

He says charter change is not among the Senate's priorities, echoing an earlier statement from Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

The House committee on constitutional amendments reportedly approved in a closed-door meeting last week a resolution that would give House members and other local officials five-year terms from the current three-year terms.

The same resolution also adds the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" to economic provisions in the charter.


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