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Romualdez: Charter change move to secure foreign capital for dev’t projects

Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte on Wednesday justified the ongoing House committee deliberations on measures seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution, saying the proposed amendments aim to attract foreign financing for job generation, among others.

“The proposed constitutional amendments are more focused now on the need to encourage investments that would further stimulate economic activities, create job opportunities, reduce poverty and lower prices of goods and services,” Romualdez said in a speech during the Constitution Day in Malacañang with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as guest of honor.

Romualdez, who is also the Philippine Constitution Association president, announced that aside from the ongoing discussions on Charter Change in Batasan, House constitutional amendments panel chairperson Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro has also scheduled public hearings in other parts of  Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

"The proponents of the lifting of the economic provisions in the Constitution agree on one thing: opening the economy wide for inflow of foreign capital is the key to address the aspirations and ideals of Filipinos: a peaceful community with enough jobs, just wages, affordable basic commodities and opportunities to thrive,” Romualdez said.

"When the President travels [abroad], we are often asked that, 'After you have made so much progress and gains in opening up the Philippine economy, the last missing piece of the puzzle remains: how about your restrictive Constitution?' Higher FDI [Foreign Direct Investment] inflows can ease capital constraints and contribute to output and employment growth,” he added.

Romualdez then argued that while the country has been addressing foreign ownership limitations that have constrained investment in many sectors through legislation such as the Public Services Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Foreign Investment Act, these relaxations are not enough.

“The fundamental investment restrictions enshrined in the Constitution could not be corrected by simple legislations nor by executive decisions,” Romualdez said.

Peasant group Anakpawis earlier said the 1987 Constitution need not be amended, and that its liberal provisions are already generous to foreigners, especially involving land acquisition, when a lot of farmers are hard-pressed to own land. — BM, GMA Integrated News