In a joint statement yesterday, the Makati Business Club, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Filipina CEO Circle, Justice Reform Initiative, Philippine Women’s Economic Network and the Women Business Council Philippines listed three points the Senate should consider as the House of Representatives approved earlier this month House Bill 7352, which calls for a constitutional convention (con-con) to amend the 1987 Constitution.
SIX business organizations said amending the Constitution is a “potentially disruptive proposal at a time when the country may be poised to regain its economic momentum.”
In a joint statement released on Friday, the Filipina CEO Circle, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Justice Reform Initiative, Makati Business Club, Philippine Women’s Economic Network Inc., and Women Business Council Philippines said enacted laws such as the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investment Act, the passage of the Rice Trade Liberalization Act, and regulations like the Department of Energy (DoE) circular allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in the renewable energy sector “can accelerate recovery and job growth at a time when the Philippines and the world face serious economic headwinds.”
The groups said the government’s efforts to amend the Charter’s economic provisions could be derailed by “political debate.”
“The possibly lengthy and fractious process of amending the Constitution may make investors take a wait-and-see attitude for an extended period of time and therefore derail the impact of the reforms,” they said.
The groups said the government must work on passing at least two more tax reform bills and other measures such as the Ease of Paying Taxes bill, instead of prioritizing Charter change.
The money spent to amend the Constitution is “better spent on pro-people programs,” they said.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimates that a constitutional convention would cost between P14 billion and P28 billion.
In the bill proposing such an assembly, P10,000 per day is earmarked for the 300 elected and appointed delegates.
“We believe these funds can be better used on agriculture to address the high inflation, transportation to enable Filipinos to get to work and home in much less time, and needed social services like health, education, and social security,” the organizations noted.
The House of Representatives has adopted House Bill 7352, which aims to amend the Constitution through a constituent convention or con-con, in which the public elects delegates who will draft the new charter.
On Friday, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said he is willing to discuss options for amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly or con-ass, a process of Charter change in which only Congress is empowered to amend the Constitution.
“If the Senate wants a different mode, that is their discretion. The House leadership, however, is willing to open discussions with the Senate on their preferred mode of amending the Constitution if that will lead to an agreement between the two chambers,” Romualdez said.
“We are open to considering any proposal of the Senate and will submit such a proposal to members of the House. This was what I related to [Leyte Fourth District] Rep. Richard Gomez when he informed me that senators are amenable to economic amendments but through con-ass,” he said.
Gomez earlier said Romualdez has agreed to back the Senate’s initiative for a constituent assembly.
Romualdez commended Gomez and Sen. Robinhood Padilla for forging an agreement between the House and Senate on charter amendments.
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