By Filane Mikee Cervantes

House of Representatives session hall (File photo) 

MANILA – The leadership of the House of Representatives said it will adhere to the will of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to limit the proposed amendments to the Constitution exclusively to economic provisions.

In a press conference on Monday, House Ways and Means Committee chair Joey Salceda said the President has made it clear that introducing economic constitutional amendments is “urgent and of highest national interest”.

“The House will follow the President, period. So let there be no other ambiguity about it, of the direction of what the House will do,” Salceda said.

Salceda said the House and the Senate will get through a “more constructive process” when it comes to amending the Constitution to stimulate the economy amid potential complications and stalling.

“Ito’y [economic Charter change] very urgent na dahil ang kompetisyon sa buong mundo, dahil kung titingnan mo ‘yung buong mundo sumisikip dahil nga po doon sa mga pinataas na interest rate ng US (This [economic Charter change] is very urgent because competition globally is getting tighter due to the hiked interest rates in the US),” he said.

House Appropriations Panel senior vice chairperson Stella Quimbo, for her part, said members of the House need to engage with their counterparts in the Senate in meaningful debate when it comes to the need to amend the restrictive economic provisions.

Quimbo said that while the Philippines sustained robust economic growth in the last quarter of 2023, she expressed concern over the lagging growth of foreign direct investments (FDI).

She noted that the country received USD83.5 billion in gross FDI inflows, ranking below our ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) neighbors Indonesia and Vietnam, which attracted USD220 billion and USD137 billion, respectively.

Quimbo said economic amendments to the Constitution would be essential to invigorate FDI growth, thus entailing job creation, higher wages, and increased productivity.

Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. said he expects healthy democratic discussions regarding the constitutional economic provisions between the House and the Senate moving forward.

In his speech during the observation of the “Constitution Day 2024” in Makati City on Feb. 8, Marcos said introducing reforms to the Constitution will be limited to the basic law’s economic provisions.

“I want to make it clear: This Administration’s position in introducing reforms to our Constitution extends to economic matters alone, or those strategically aimed at boosting our country’s economy. Nothing more,” Marcos said.

“In any event, this Administration is going to continue to push hard to attract more foreign investments to significantly help us achieve our ambition of upper-middle-class income status by 2025,” he added.

According to him, despite a nearly 16 percent decrement in the net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, the Philippine economy continues to grow and is expected to grow further by 6 and a half to 7 and a half percent this year. (PNA)