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3 senators buck Padilla's Cha-cha push

A day after filing the measure, Senator Robin Padilla's push to amend the 1987 Constitution's economic provisions already received opposition from two senior senators.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Thursday said, amending the Constitution should not be a priority considering the problems that the country is facing right now such as inflation, unemployment, and corruption.

"Our people are too preoccupied with daily living struggles. Although we need constitutional changes to improve our system of government, this can wait as we should first address the basic daily living problems like: where to get food to feed the family, the continued increase in prices (inflation), where to get a job, corruption, the high cost of living and even of dying, and many many more basic problems," explained Pimentel.

"Also, why prioritize the changing of the economic provisions in the Constitution when what needs to be changed are the political provisions?," he added.

On the other hand, Senator Grace Poe argued that the 18th Congress had already passed several legislation to address the so-called economic restrictions under the 1987 Constitution.

"As for the economic provisions, we’ve passed major legislations that clarified the economic provisions of the Constitution," she said in a separate text message to reporters.

"The Public Service Act [and] Trade Liberalization Act, both are meant to encourage more investments, employment and economic growth. There’s no need at the moment for a Con-Ass, unless the proponents are pushing for another agenda," she added.

Senator Nancy Binay shared Poe's stance on the issue, saying the restrictive provisions of the charter had already been addressed by the last Congress.

"?If we're talking about amendments to the economic provisions in the Constitution, we've already addressed that in the last Congress with three vital economic liberalization laws that are intended to boost our economy and global competitiveness," Binay said.

Binay also mentioned the Foreign Investments Act which she said is enough to attract foreign investors.

"'Yung mga nai-introduce nating mga economic reforms ay tugon doon sa mga kakulangan sa probisyon sa Constitution, at sagot sa mga isyu ng foreign equity limitation sa utilities, power, telecoms, transport at aviation, infra, at iba pang sektor. The country is still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, but we're confident these reforms are sufficient to encourage investors and help revitalize our economy," she said.

(The economic reforms that we have already introduced will respond to the lacking provisions in our Constitution. This will also address the issue on foreign equity limitations in utilities, power, telecommunications, transport, aviation, infrastructure and other sectors.)

Further, Binay said charter change would cause more division which the country does not need at the moment considering the anticipated global recession.

"Alam naman nating divisive masyado ang charter change. Ang kailangan natin eh magkaisa para paghandaan yung posibleng global recession." she said.

(We know that charter change is too divisive and what we need right now is to unite so we can prepare for the possible global recession.)

On Wednesday, Padilla filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 3 which seeks to amend several economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution through a Constituent Assembly.

"These economic provisions are perceived to be barriers to trade and investment responsible for the continuous decline of foreign direct investments," Padilla said in his resolution.

Despite the country's offer of tax holidays and other fiscal incentives, Padilla said the Philippines is now lagging behind other ASEAN countries in foreign direct investment registry due to its  complicated investment regulations that emanated from the prohibitive economic provisions of the Constitution.

"To accelerate economic growth and fulfill its international commitment, the Philippines must amend its Constitution by removing these restrictive economic provisions to allow foreign businesses to directly invest in a more conducive landscape," he added.

Under Section XVII of the 1987 Constitution, any amendment or revision to the Constitution may be proposed by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members or through a constitutional convention (Con-con).

In a Con-con, the people who will amend the charter will be elected by the people. —Hana Bordey/ VAL, GMA Integrated News