MANILA — While President Marcos does not consider Charter change a priority, key members of his economic team and Cabinet support moves to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, a congressional leader said on Wednesday.
“We are encouraged by the statements/position papers of members of the President’s economic team and of the Cabinet who share our desire and goal for the country to attract more foreign investments through economic reform,” Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.
In the economic team, Rodriguez named the likes of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Arsenio Balisacan as supportive of the House of Representatives’ push for a constitutional convention to rewrite the Charter’s restrictive economic provisions. Likewise, Cha-cha supporters from the Cabinet include Secretaries Benhur Abalos of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Enrique Manalo of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Rex Gatchalian of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Rodriguez, who heads the House committee on constitutional amendments, pointed out that all of them have manifested their support for Cha-cha through a position paper they submitted to the panel.
“We are heartened by Secretary Diokno’s supportive statement. He is an influential voice in the administration and in the business community,” he said.
Balisacan, a highly respected economic manager, said: “NEDA would be open to revisiting or amending the restrictive economic provisions… in line with, of course, the goal of propelling our growth, projecting our global position upward.”
Gatchalian, a former Valenzuela City mayor and congressman, said: “We believe that amending the Constitution is timely and necessary, particularly the economic provisions that are already outdated and are no longer in the context of the present economic situation.”
Manalo, who rose through the DFA ranks, told the Rodriguez committee that a “lot of foreigners want to retire in our country (and) want to own their retirement home… but it’s very difficult for them.”They end up, more often than not, marrying a Filipina, as a workaround,” he added.
For his part, Abalos revealed that the DILG has written its Core Constitutional Reform Handbook, which advocates Charter amendments, including “liberalizing citizenship-based restrictions on foreign direct investment.”
Rodriguez, of Cagayan de Oro City, said local government units grouped under the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, led by Quirino Gov. Dakila Cua, also support the House initiative.