The Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) released the following statement last month in reaction to the House of Representatives’ renewed push for Charter change (Cha-cha):

“We agree that the economic provisions of the Constitution must be amended to make the country a more attractive investment destination. Having said that, we are strongly opposed to any initiative at this time to amend the Constitution. It is akin to undertaking house renovation while the family struggles to pay for food, basic education, hospitalization expenses, and other badly-needed basic necessities.

“There are low-hanging fruits which Congress can focus on to help the country successfully emerge from the pandemic and make it more attractive to investors. For example, still pending for enactment into law are the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill and the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill. There are also efforts to put in place a new stimulus package to revive and restore our economy to normalcy.

“We respectfully request the President to sign into law the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill, which was ratified by Congress before its Christmas break. We call on Congress to tackle legislative initiatives on the economy at the earliest possible time, rather than devote its time and the country’s meager resources to a highly controversial, divisive issue at this time.”

Nine other organizations supported FINEX’s call urging the 18th Congress to avoid tinkering with the 1987 Constitution ahead of the 2022 national and local elections. These are the Philippine Retailers Association, the Management Association of the Philippines, the Women’s Business Council, the Makati Business Club, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Investment House Association of the Philippines, the Filipina CEO Circle, the Philippine Women’s Economic Network, and the Judicial Reform Initiative.

With only 15 months to go before our crucial presidential election in May next year, the 10 organizations said “any attempt at Charter change now will be divisive at a time when our country still needs to be totally united in our efforts to overcome the ill effects of the pandemic.”

To the House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments, the business community’s message is clear: NO TO CHA-CHA AMID THE PANDEMIC!

Last Jan. 15, FINEX celebrated its 53rd anniversary with the induction of board members and officers. Below are excerpts from the inaugural address of 2021 President Francis Lim highlighting this year’s theme, “Transcending the New Frontier. Leading Beyond Recovery.”

“2020 was a life-changing year. COVID-19 continues to test the mettle of human beings on so many levels — physically, emotionally, financially, psychologically, and socially. The pandemic has, without doubt, brought devastating effects on the global economy. 2021 will test our mettle as an organization. Let’s show the world what stuff we are truly made of!

“We have to rise above or go beyond the punishing effects of the pandemic and look forward with optimism to the future, cautious though it may be. For all its faults, the COVID-19 has been the catalyst that drew companies and at a certain level, the government, to move towards digital, a sure thing that would have happened given the technological change that had been happening around us. In a big way, this pandemic gave us a clear insight of what we need to do for our businesses to survive and compete in this day and age and the years ahead of us.

“It is without question that we must recover from the devastation brought about by the pandemic. We owe it to our children and our children’s children. As finance executives, we must not only look for short-term solutions, but we must look forward and develop our long-term strategies to ensure sustainability. We must lead in the area of finance to help ensure the survival of our economy. We will take advantage of the wisdom of our senior members, honed by years of experience, in helping our organization lead beyond recovery.”


J. Albert Gamboa is CFO of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and chairman of FINEX Publications.