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House targets finishing Charter reform before Holy Week

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The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on constitutional amendments said the House and the Senate can finish Charter reform before the Holy Week recess of Congress in March, a press release from the House of Representatives said.

“We welcome the change of heart on the part of our senators on Charter change. If they are serious, we should target to conclude this effort, which the House has been advocating since the 8th Congress, before we go on our Holy Week break on March 23,” Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.

He said it is important that the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution be tweaked in a manner that would attract foreign investments, which in turn would create more job and income opportunities for Filipinos.

“Instead of wasting their time on seeing and fearing ghosts and no-el (no elections) scenarios where there are none in the ongoing people’s initiative, senators should work with us on changes in the economic provisions. That may ease the pressure from our people for them to act on Charter reform,” he added.

The Mindanao lawmaker stressed the urgency of changing the language of the Constitution’s economic provisions. 

“We have to do it as early as possible, lest we miss the boat on enticing foreign investors, if we have not missed it yet. As it is, we are now No. 8 in foreign direct investments in the10-member ASEAN. Alarmingly, we have already been overtaken by Vietnam and Cambodia. We are only ahead of Laos and Myanmar,” he said.

Rodriguez said his committee has voluminous records on constitutional amendment proposals presented since the 8th Congress.

“We have the records, the institutional memory. So we are ready to tackle this matter of constitutional reform with the Senate as soon as possible,” he said.

Rodriguez pointed out that the House, “recognizing the bicameral nature of our legislature,” had sent to the Senate all Charter reform measures it had approved or adopted for the smaller chamber’s own consideration.

“We have always respected bicameralism. But our proposals and insistent appeals for them to consider Charter reform have invariably fallen on deaf ears until two weeks ago, when my beloved Senate president from Mindanao announced their change of heart because they are already feeling the heat from our people,” he said.

He said the people have launched a campaign for a direct amendment of the Charter, which senators feel would erode bicameralism and render them irrelevant on Charter change.

“Senators have put themselves in a problematic situation for which they have only themselves to blame. They have consistently ignored the people’s clamor for Charter reform voiced through their elected district representatives until the people decided to take matters into their own hands,” he said.

He added that he hoped that the Charter reform advocacy of the House would succeed this time “for the sake of our country, our economy and our people.”*

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