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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

14 February 2021 12:20:00 PM

Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2 is necessary if the country is to have the flexibility to respond to inevitable changes in world economic conditions.

This was one of the main arguments of Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo in a letter to House Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chairperson and AKO Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. explaining her vote in favor of RBH 2, which hurdled the panel in a 64-3-3 vote and is due to be heard in the plenary starting Monday.

Quimbo, a respected economist with a doctorate in economics from the University of the Philippines, emphasized that “the only permanent thing in an economy is change.”

“If the Constitution holds important economic structures such as control over capital, access to resources, barriers to entry as fixed, we will be left behind. Talagang maiiwan tayo sa pansitan kung hindi natin buksan ang ating pintuan, Mr. Chair,” Quimbo said.

The Marikina lawmaker clarified that contrary to concerns that the proposed amendments would allow for the unregulated influx of foreign capital that would threaten local industries, “the proposal under RBH2 is not a free pass for all foreign investments to come in.”

“That is the brilliance of it—it provides flexibility but still allows the legislature to address the fear of some of our countrymen that we will be inundated with foreign business leaving local industry to wither away. The phrase to be added, ‘unless otherwise provided by law,’ is both liberating and serves as a protection clause. It allows our economic regulations to evolve with the times,” she explained.

The legislator pointed out that as 1987 Constitutional Commission member Dr. Bernardo Villegas stated in the Committee’s hearings, the economic provisions in the Constitution were originally written when the Philippines was the “Sick Man of Asia” and “had little to gain from opening up and arguably more to gain from protectionist policies.”

“Fast forward to today, the Philippine economy has metamorphosed. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, it was, prior to COVID, one of the most promising developing economies, slated to move up to upper-middle-income status in 2020,” added Quimbo.

“But with the COVID-19 pandemic, we should be realizing that such status can only be achieved if we are in a better position to compete for foreign investments, which we are fast losing to countries such as Vietnam,” warned the lawmaker.

As the country prepares for economic recovery post-pandemic, Quimbo, however, added that “we need to act now. We need to introduce flexibility into the economic provisions of our Constitution so that the Legislature has leg room to steer the economy according to the demands of the time.” #