Charter change should be hailed, not feared

I don’t remember any criminal cases being filed for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law. It is simply not being enforced.

I salute the efforts of Senator Robin Padilla, chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, in continuing to push for amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Senator Robin continues to hold public consultations and hearings on the importance of the advocacy to remove exclusionary and protectionist economic provisions in the present Constitution.

As secretary general of PDP-Laban, I am fully supportive of the campaign of my party mate, Senator Robin. Given his popularity with the masses (topping the senatorial elections in 2022), Senator Robin is the best voice to elevate the issue of charter change as an issue of national concern.

Pulse Asia surveys since 2016 show that the issue of charter change is not an urgent concern for the people. The top concerns have usually been controlling inflation, improving workers’ pay, creating more jobs, and fighting corruption and criminality. This is why those opposed to amending the Constitution just parrot these survey results — it’s because they know the masses are not well-informed on the subject of charter change. Add to this, those who are opposed also create fear in the minds of the people that the change will only involve the perpetuation of power to benefit the present leaders.

Given these conditions, Senator Robin has been deliberative in his approach to the issue and has been holding extensive public consultations and hearings on charter amendments. He has also been using social media to educate the public on his advocacy to make it more known to the masses. In one of the social media reels I recently watched, Senator Robin emotionally stated that the Philippine economy, without foreign investments and because of the lack of domestic capital, relies heavily on the remittances of OFWs for growth. He is right. This is why the growth is mostly in consumption, not in manufacturing or the production of goods.

Because we have not created jobs and industries, most Filipinos seek jobs abroad. Instead of working in factories and construction here, they work in factories and construction abroad and leave their families behind. This, in turn, has created an assortment of social ills and a bad reputation for the Filipino diaspora.

Amending the economic provisions of the Constitution is not the panacea for all these ills but it presents a huge change that we must embrace and be excited about. The restrictions on foreign ownership of land and businesses have restricted capital flows into the country. These have resulted in the use of dummies to evade these constitutional provisions for those willing to take the risk. Yet, I don’t remember any criminal cases being filed for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law. It is simply not being enforced.

We should be excited about the efforts of Senator Robin because the status quo is simply not working for us. A World Bank study shows that restrictive policies are inversely related to the flow of foreign domestic investments. In other words, the more restrictions, the less FDIs will enter the country.

FDIs are very critical to our country for several reasons: (1) FDIs are sources of capital for infrastructure development to stimulate economic growth; (2) Capital is usually infused with technology transfers and the expertise of the foreign owners can improve our productivity and competitiveness; (3) It can enhance our trade with the foreign investors’ countries and their buyers; (4) There will be diversification to other sectors so we will not be fully reliant on expending our finite natural resources; and (5) Capital needs labor to produce so FDIs will be a driver for jobs creation, to improve working conditions and training opportunities for our local workers.

Senator Robin needs all the help he can get in pushing for change in the economic provisions of the Constitution. As his party mate in PDP-Laban, I will make sure to do my part in raising the issue in the national consciousness.

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