Philippine Daily Inquirer

LAWMAKER HITS 3 BILLS AS ‘PIECEMEAL CHA-CHA’

- By Nestor Corrales @NCorralesI­NQ

The three pending bills certified as urgent by President Duterte to further open the economy to more foreign investors are “piecemeal Charter change” (Cha-cha), according to Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas.

Speaking at an online press conference on Thursday, Brosas warned that the passage of amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investment­s Act and Retail Trade Liberaliza­tion Act would negatively impact small businesses in the country.

“If these [bills] are passed, into law, local businesses would suffer,” she said adding that foreigners would now be allowed full ownership of the water, power, transport and retail industries.

Brosas, a member of the progressiv­e bloc in the House of Representa­tives, said the President was pushing for the passage of the three measures after his allies failed to convince other lawmakers to amend the economic provisions in the 1987 Constituti­on.

In an April 12 letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Mr. Duterte certified the immediate passage of the three economic bills that the House had earlier passed.

The bills seek to ease restrictio­ns to foreign investment­s, like lowering the capitaliza­tion ceiling for foreign-led retailers.

But Brosas said these “economic measures certified as urgent by President Duterte are piecemeal Cha-cha.”

The House started plenary deliberati­ons on Cha-cha in February, but the bill has yet to pass second reading in the chamber.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco earlier said he wanted the approval of Cha-cha in May, or a full year before the 2022 presidenti­al election.

More investment­s

In contrast to Brosas’ view, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the proposed measures would improve Philippine competitiv­eness in attracting foreign investment­s.

“With the contractio­n of our economy, we owe it to the Filipino people to enact all necessary legislatio­ns to improve and stimulate our economy, including the timely lifting of restrictiv­e provisions in the Constituti­on,” Garbin, one of the lawmakers pushing for Chacha, said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera, author of the Public Service Act, said the three economic bills would allow companies to rehire the millions who lost their jobs during the pandemic and to employ more personnel.

Herrera said the proposed amendments to the Retail Trade Liberaliza­tion Act of 2000 would draw new foreign investment­s into the retail sector and enhance market competitio­n.

“These three new major pieces of legislatio­n, together with the recently signed the (Financial Institutio­ns Strategic Transfer) Act and the (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprise­s), would give our economy additional ways to recover and compete better in the new normal local and internatio­nal economy,” she said.

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