Quezon Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez (HOR / Quezon Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN) Quezon Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez (HOR / Quezon Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN) Manila Bulletin

Quezon Rep. Suarez seeks revival of ‘Cha-Cha’ to address COVID’s economic impact Featured

Reasons to amend the 1987 Constitution were raised anew in the House of Representatives, this time by a ranking official who insisted that ridding the Charter of restrictive economic provisions is necessary in addressing the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a privilege speech, Quezon Rep. David “Jay-jay” Suarez said constitutional reform could significantly improve the country’s chances of regaining huge economic losses not only triggered by the current pandemic but also by recent and future natural calamities.

“There is no better time to discuss Constitutional Reform than now,” declared Suarez in a privilege speech delivered on Monday, Dec. 14.
The former Quezon governor underscored the need to ensure that the Constitution reflects the current needs of Filipinos, most of whom are suffering from the devastation brought by multiple calamities on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If this is an extraordinarily difficult time, then it is also the high time to explore and pursue extraordinary solutions,” said Suarez, assistant majority leader in the Lower House.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has also batted for amendments to the 1987 Constitution that would relax the country’s investment regulations in order to attract more foreign investments, especially in agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

While admitting that there may not be enough time to pursue the amendments, Velasco told leaders and members of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines (JFC) and local business groups that the House of Representatives will have to continue tackling the constitutional proposals.

“Notwithstanding, this overdue constitutional amendment should be tackled and addressed with finality in the next Congress,” Velasco told the JFC during a virtual meeting the other week.

Suarez, who is also vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriaitons and on Good government and Public Accountability noted that in July 2020, 1,400 mayors in the country supported the call for Charter Change.

He also disagreed with the stand of certain senators that Charter change is “dead before it even starts.”

Suarez rejected this observation, saying that the timing is a chicken-and-egg conversation that cannot be resolved without having a conversation to begin with.

“Our responsibility as lawmakers and representatives of the Filipino people is to build trust, initiate a sober and people-inclusive discussion, and exhaust all means to enlighten our people about the issue,” he argued.

The administration lawmaker acknowledged the apprehension of Filipinos, but reminded that “the lack of trust does not prove the lack of need.”

“Even if we do not realize it in this Congress, our debates and deliberations will be a stronger foundation in the future. To me, that is a more meaningful legacy than shooting the topic dead before it even lived,” he said.

Suarez cited the country’s declining Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) as clear proof of the inability of the 1987 Constitution to provide the best framework to cushion the effects of the pandemic.

“According to the World Investment Report 2020 of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, our net FDI declined to 5 billion dollars in 2019, from 2018’s 6.6 billion dollars. That’s a 24 percent decline in investments, Mr. Speaker,” lamented the lawmaker.

He said the Philippines is experiencing ballooning unemployment as a drastic effect of the pandemic. Currently, there are around two million Filipinos whose unemployment was a result of businesses and workplaces being forced to close down.

The FDIs from 2019 alone could have greatly cushioned the pandemic and helped vulnerable stakeholders like poor families, teachers and students, and farmers among others.

Suarez also stressed that in comparison to other ASEAN countries, the Philippines is lagging behind in foreign investments.

“Opening our economy guarantees not only more funds to be used for people’s agenda, it also ensures that foreign partners have a direct and strong stake in our fast recovery and economic stability,” the lawmaker stated.

Read 1318 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 December 2020 12:15
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