Salceda backs purely economic amendments in Charter Change

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda is throwing his support purely on economic amendments in the proposed Charter Change, particularly those pertaining to easing up the overly restrictive foreign ownership provisions of the 1987 Constitution, to help pave the way for political and economic stability in the country.

He was referring to recent moves in the 18th Congress geared at liberalizing the economic provisions of the 1987 Charter particularly those under Article XII which “prohibits foreign investors from owning more than 40 percent of firms in certain industries, and totally restricting them from public utilities, owning any company in the media industry, and exploiting natural resources.“

Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, said certain restrictions in the 1987 Constitution have long held the Philippines back from pursuing the same kind of aggressive national development that its neighbors, such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, have embarked on and were successful.

“The economic provisions in the charter were written at a time when land was the most critical of all economic inputs. That is no longer the case now. In fact, there is little value in a foreign corporation owning land in the Philippines, with our highly sophisticated office space market,”  Salceda said.

He pointed out that “what the restrictions have inflicted upon us, instead is domestic monopolies and oligopolies that offer little improvement in services.”

“That said, we will have to study what is laid on the table. There are proposals for an exclusively economic change in the Constitution. Others want more comprehensive changes. I want our economic restraints removed, and I am open to political changes to the Constitution,” said Salceda .

This will go through a process, and of course, the timeline is getting tighter. Realistically, it has to push through before filing of candidacy for all elective posts by October this year,” he added.

Earlier Salceda said voiced his agreement “with the popular opinion that the country needs to reexamine the Constitution and make it more relevant and responsive to present-day realities, towards rare opportunities for peace and to unite the country’s diverse ethnic, cultural and religious groups.

Sponsors of Federalism in Congress have set a timeline of amending the Charter in the first half of Duterte’s six-year term to put in place a transition government in the second half that will set the stage for a full federal state.

This was however stalled by more pressing issues, particularly the coronavirus pandemic. Salceda said the primary goals of Charter change includes enhanced decentralization, greater local government power and access to resources, especially among regions outside “Imperial Manila,” for them to chart their own development directions.

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