By Wilnard Bacelonia and Jose Cielito Reganit

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez 

MANILA – The House of Representatives has committed to support and adopt the Senate’s Resolution of Both Houses 6 on amendments to specific economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The commitment was contained in a letter sent by House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday evening.

Romualdez’s letter began with excerpts from his opening statement during the resumption of sessions on Monday, wherein he emphasized the urgency of facilitating the “entry of foreign capital and direct investments” into the country’s economy by carefully scrutinizing “pertinent economic provisions” of the Constitution to “eliminate the barriers that restrict potential growth.”

He said the House welcomes the Senate’s decision to consider charter change through RBH 6, which signals a “strong sense of unity and purpose.”

The Congress of the Philippines, now acting as one body, will eventually fulfill the call for a reformed, responsive, and results-oriented constitutional framework, the Speaker said on Monday.

“Given the above statements and in conjunction with the commitment of the Senate when we met prior to the vin d’ honneur last Jan. 11, 2024, this Representation as the head of the House of the People, together with all the Deputy Speakers, Majority Leader, and Minority Leader reiterates our FULL SUPPORT with the Senate in their filing and eventual passage of Resolution of Both Houses No. 6,” Romualdez said in his letter to Zubiri.

“We await the approval of the Senate of RBH No. 6, and we commit to adopt this measure pertaining to the amendments of the economic provisions of the Constitution.”

Romualdez also pledged to support an “alternative People’s Initiative” led by the Senate with the proposition on amendments to the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution.

“We stand at a historic juncture, where cooperations and collective resolve are paramount. We will transcend past barriers to reform, charting a course towards a future where every Filipino can partake in the nation’s prosperity,” he said.

“In uniting under our values and principles, the leaders of the House of Representatives, recommit ourselves to the service of our people and the democratic ideals we are sworn to uphold. Together, we are steadfast in our resolve to cultivate a nation where democracy flourishes, economies thrive, and every Filipino is empowered to realize their fullest potential.”

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. earlier said the government is looking into the possibility of introducing economic reforms to attract more foreign investments.

In an interview aired over GMA News’ 24 Oras on Jan. 23, Marcos reiterated the need for economic reforms to entice more foreign investors to explore or expand their business in the Philippines.

“The 1987 Constitution was not written for a globalized world. And that’s the way that is where we are now. We have to adjust so that we can increase the economic activities in the Philippines. We can attract more foreign investors,” he said.

Marcos, however, said he is not in favor of foreign ownership of lands.

He also emphasized the need to identify “all the strategic areas that we cannot allow to be influenced by foreign entity, be it a corporation or another country.” 

‘Trust issues’ remain

Senator Imee Marcos confirmed Friday that they still have trust issues with the members of the House of Representatives (HRep) even after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri received a letter from Speaker Martin Romualdez reiterating his full support for the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, which seeks to start the discussions on the proposed amendments to the three economic provisions of the Constitution.

She cited the letter as “confusing” since what is happening on the ground about the reported illegal collection of signatures is different from the official statements being issued by Romualdez.

Humarap kay Presidente ang Speaker at yung SP [Senate President] tapos ang kalalabasan yung RBH 6, tinupad naman namin. Kaya lang hindi naman sila tumigil. Panay pa rin yung papirma. Panay pa rin yung suhol. Eh, hindi naman tama yun (SP Zubiri and Speaker Romualdez already talked to the President which resulted to the RBH 6. We honored it but they did not stop. Collecting of signatures and bribery continued. That’s not right),” Senator Marcos said in a Zoom interview.

Senator Marcos also confirmed that senators, including her, met with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday in Malacañang where they gave their sentiments and concerns to him.

Sabi nga namin eh mahirap magtrabaho kapag ganito. Hindi naman kami haharang o tututol sa mga economic provisions. Hindi rin naman kami tutol sa PI [people’s initiative], kaya lang wag naman ganito na napakalabo at labag pa sa batas. Ginagamit pa ang pera ng bayan (We said it is hard to work like this. We will not against the economic provisions. We are also not against the [people’s initiative] PI but not this way which is illegal and uses the people’s money),” she added.

Senator Marcos, as the chairperson of the Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, is set to preside on Jan. 30 the first inquiry on people’s initiative attempts which were allegedly organized by congressmen.

She said various experts in the Constitution and Charter change advocates were invited.

Her panel, Senator Marcos clarified, is open to receive HRep members in the inquiry but are not required to attend.

“They are always invited and we will always recognize and allow them to speak but we will never be calling on them forcibly,” she said.

The panel, she said, also seeks to find out who are those behind the illegal PIs and held them accountable.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva vowed to defend the Senate as an institution and as the “last bastion of democracy.”

Villanueva recently opened his office to receive reports from anyone who can provide information on the illegalities in the PI attempts which he said showed that 90 percent are pointing to the staff of the members of the HRep. (PNA)