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Charter change (cha-cha) is once again alive in Congress. Although business groups support the initiative to liberalize the economy, they say that amending the Constitution 15 months before the national elections will only be “divisive.” 

Lawmakers, they added, should instead focus on passing pending measures reforming the country’s existing economic policies while the country is in the middle of a pandemic.

In this episode of B-Side, Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr., chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments, speaks with BusinessWorld reporter Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza about the resolution filed by House Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco in 2019, which seeks to amend the “restrictive” economic provisions of the Constitution. 

Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to several sections of the Constitution, namely on national patrimony and economy; education, science, technology, arts, culture and sports; and general provisions on media and advertising.

House legislators have assured that the House proceeding on charter change would only focus on the Charter’s economic provisions, which bar foreign investors from owning more than 40% of certain industries. 

Economist Gerardo P. Sicat and former National Economic and Development Authority chief Ernesto M. Pernia support the said amendments, citing the need to speed up the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

Senators Ronald M. Dela Rosa and Francis N. Tolentino, meanwhile, are pushing to amend the Charter’s provisions on “democratic representation.” They filed their counterpart version in December 2020.

The committee is expected to bring the bill to the plenary by February.

This episode of B-Side was recorded remotely on January 16. Produced by Nina M. Diaz, Paolo L. Lopez, and Sam L. Marcelo.

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