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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

22 February 2021 05:53:33 PM

The House of Representatives on Monday kicked off plenary deliberations on proposals to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution, with Committee on Constitutional Amendments Chair and AKO BICOL Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. stressing the wisdom of passing Resolution of Both Houses Number 2 (RBH 2) in order to give government the freedom to adopt measures that will pave the way for economic development.

In his sponsorship speech, Garbin argued that "it is wise for Congress to amend the Constitution by adding the phrase 'unless otherwise provided by law' in order to give the government enough flexibility to consider different circumstances prevailing at different stages our road to economic development before formulating policies that should be time bound."

Garbin emphasized that economic conditions "are never static, so must the fundamental law be freed from the constraint of rigidity. While it is reduced to writing, it should not be devoid of the element of flexibility."

According to Garbin, observers have pointed out that the Constitution's restrictive economic provisions “have proven to be a bane, rather than a boon for the country, for they have restricted or discouraged the flow of foreign direct investments."

"While these provisions may be very well-meaning and appear to favor the interests of Filipinos, over the long haul, the country and the common good of all Filipinos suffer," added Garbin.

These experts, he said, "believe in the need to amend the Constitution to eliminate these overly protective provisions to attract more foreign investments and to adopt policies to enable the country to compete more effectively in the global economy."

The legislator was referring to provisions of the Constitution that limit foreign ownership in business enterprises operating in the country, including public utilities.

While the Bicolano solon reminded the chamber that all Filipinos are duty-bound to respect and obey the Constitution, "the obligation to respect, obey and to dutifully protect does not equate to permanence."

"It does not mean that the tenets therein would no longer be changed if change is necessary and if change is desired by the people."

Before being heard in the plenary, the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments had voted 64-3-3 to adopt RBH 2. Garbin had earlier revealed that the House plans to approve the resolution on third and final reading before Congress goes on recess on March 27.