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Lagman hits Velasco's proposal to amend 'restrictive' economic constitutional provisions

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman on Tuesday criticized the measure filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco seeking to propose amendments to "restrictive" economic provisions in the Constitution, saying that it provides for a "mongrelized" process for Charter change (Cha-cha).

Lagman made the remark on the eve of the reopening of the House deliberations on Cha-cha in an attempt to open up the country to foreign investment which, in turn, would generate more jobs and help the economy recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Lagman said Velasco's Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2 effectively authorizes Congress to make constitutional amendments by legislation, which is in violation of the amendatory procedures provided under the Constitution, namely Constituent Assembly, Constitutional Convention, and People's Initiative.

RBH No. 2 inserts the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" to the constitutional provisions on national patrimony and economy; education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports; and on general provisions to give Congress flexibility to enact laws that would free up the economy to foreign investors.

"The omnibus and boundless phrase 'unless otherwise provided by law' is an infirm or pseudo proposal because the real power to amend is fully vested in the Congress as a lawmaking body instead of being exercised by a Constituent Assembly, Constitutional Convention or People’s Initiative," Lagman said.

"Any proposed alienation of the nationality provisions in the Constitution on restricted foreign capital investment in sensitive industries as well as in land acquisition and ban on media ownership, among others, must be specific and complete for the consideration of a Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Convention, and the eventual ratification by the people who must be clearly informed of the parameters of the proposed amendments," he added.

Lagman argued that Congress should not be left with the blanket authority to fill in the blanks or provide the details of the amendments to economic provisions in the Constitution.

"It is different when the Congress is authorized by the Constitution itself at the time of its ratification to enact implementing legislation which are not in the nature of constitutional amendments," he said.

Aside from this, Lagman also pointed out that lifting the restriction to Filipinos on certain economic provisions in the Constitution is not needed as prospective foreign investors themselves do not clamor for it.

Citing studies from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Bank, he said that foreign entities look for the following factors in considering investments in the Philippines:

  • ease of doing business
  • adequacy and quality of infrastructure
  • predictability of government policies
  • government stability
  • cost of power
  • internet speed
  • incidence of corruption
  • transparency in public procurement, and
  • labor skills and wages


"Removal or liberalization of the citizenship requirements in the Constitution is not one of the principal determinants for encouraging foreign investments," Lagman said.

"Verily, Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 is defective in procedure and deficient in merit," he added.

Velasco maintained that opening up the country to foreign investors is crucial to help the Philippine economy recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"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," he said.

"RBH 2 seeks to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution that prevent us from becoming fully competitive with our Asian neighbors," he added.

Velasco said they are aiming to finish the Cha-cha deliberations before the end of 2021 and present it to the public for ratification alongside the 2022 elections. —KG, GMA News