Amending Constitution last piece of the puzzle for economic growth — Romualdez
TOKYO, Japan — Amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution appears to be the final piece of the puzzle to ensure the country’s growth, House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said on Friday.
Romualdez said this in an interview with Filipino reporters here late Friday night after noting that the government is trying to position itself towards economic recovery after the pandemic, using the investments brought in by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his delegation during the several foreign trips.
However, the issue of allegedly restrictive economic provisions always pops up during discussions, including in this trip of the President to Japan.
“We are identifying the Constitution now as the last piece of the puzzle. We believe that once we open it, and once we revisit the economic provisions, to make it less restrictive but more open or at least competitive to other constitutions, then I think we will get the final success that we have been looking for,” Romualdez said.
“You know, the Philippines moves up from the third world country tier to the second world, to a developed country status. So we’re trying to position ourselves to that, and we just have to be very competitive, and I always get that sense, every time I go out on these trips, I get the sense that this is something holding us back,” he added.
The House Speaker said this is why the House has been doing consultative meetings with the people, alongside with Congressional hearings to gauge if the country is prepared to tackle charter change.
“That’s why we’re having these hearings, these consultations with the people, and if they are ready and willing, because we think at the end of the day, dito talaga makikinabang ang taumbayan kapag binuksan talaga ‘yong ekonomiya, dadagsain talaga tayo ng investments kasi nafi-feel talaga natin dito,” he noted.
(That’s why we’re having these hearings, these consultations with the people, and if they are ready and willing, because we think at the end of the day, the Filipinos will benefit if we open the economy because many investments will come in.)
Romualdez’s statements appear to be a somewhat change of heart regarding charter change. Last July 18, before the session of the 19th Congress opened, the Speaker said that amending the constitution is not a priority for them.
However, he also assured that they would listen to proposals.
Recently, the House Committee on constitutional amendments heard proposals to amend the constitution based on several factors, including the economic provisions which prevent the foreign ownership of land and businesses.
While there is a strong push to amend these provisions supposedly to allow more investments to come in, several legal luminaries including former Bayan Muna lawmaker Neri Colmenares reasoned out that nearby countries like Taiwan and Singapore did not need a high rate of foreign direct investments to start and sustain economic growth.
But Romualdez maintains that making the Philippine economy less restrictive would ensure that capital would enter the country.
“To make it talagang business friendly, to make the economic climate so conducive and as we know, kapag may foreign direct investment, kapital ‘yan so may bagong negosyo, may employment, may livelihood. And you know, that spells the difference,” he said.
(To make it really business friendly, to make the economic climate so conducive and as we know, if there are foreign direct investments, [that’s] capital for a new business, employment, and livelihood. And you know, that spells the difference.)
“It is also our dream that work abroad should be an option and not you know, a no-choice situation. So we’d really like to create more job opportunities and you know, better livelihood in the Philippines, we feel that by bringing in and attracting foreign capital, foreign investments, and making the atmosphere and the environment so conducive for that, then we feel that we’ll be able to achieve not just a better economy but a better country,” he added.
Marcos has made several pitches to business leaders from various industry — including his message during the Philippine Business Opportunities Forum earlier where he urged Japanese firms to think of the Philippines whenever they would talk about growth.
Earlier, Marcos presided over a meeting where 35 deals between the Philippine government and businesses, and several Japanese firms were signed. During that program, the President promised that transaction costs for companies doing business in the Philippines would be reduced.
The deals revolve around include manufacturing, infrastructure development, energy, transportation, healthcare, renewable energy, real estate, and business expansion industries.