House may push ‘Cha-Cha’ in 2014

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    Guiao in open interchange with CAMI members. PHOTO BY BONG LACSON

    CLARK FREEPORT — There are strong indications that the leadership of the House of Representatives may push, beginning January 2014, for some amendments in the economic provisions of the Constitution in a bid to make the country more attractive to foreign investors.

    Neophyte Pampanga Congressman Yeng Guiao hinted at this during an interaction with Central Luzon mediamen at the weekly forum “Balitaan” hosted by the Capampangan in Media, Inc. (CAMI) in partnership with the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and Social Security System (SSS) at the Bale-Balita here.

    Guiao said there is a growing consensus among the pro-Aquino bloc in the Lower House to liberalize the constitutional limitations on land and corporate ownership imposed on foreign investors but could not say
    the “extent of liberalization” being contemplated by the House leadership.

    Existing constitutional provisions disallow foreigners to gain land or real estate ownership except in condominium buildings and residential subdivisions, where 40 percent of the total number of units or lots may
    be sold to a foreigner.

    The same 40-percent restriction holds true in the case of business enterprises or corporations engaged in the exploitation of natural resources, agriculture, retail, media and telecommunications and banking.

    Guiao also intimated that majority of the House members prefer to pursue a Charter Change agenda via a Constitutional Assembly (Con-Ass ) rather than the traditional Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) “to speed
    up the process and cut costs.”

    Under the Con-Ass approach, the lawmakers simply constitute themselves into a group to amend the Charter’s provisions. In the Con- Con system, the delegates are required to be elected, making it a rather expensive process than Con-Ass.

    In the same forum, Guiao commented that the pro-Aquino bloc, like members of the Liberal Party like him, “are still loyal to the party in power despite the abolition of their pork barrel allocations.” He also said that he personally believed there was nothing wrong with the pork barrel system, which critics described as the presidential largesse to supporters and allies in the legislature, except for the abuses committed by some, particularly those linked to Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged ringleader in the misuse of some P10 billion pork
    barrel allocations of lawmakers.

    “These people must be punished for the alleged crime they committed,” Guiao said, noting that as of now, all lawmakers, particularly neophytes, like him, are encountering difficulties in meeting the expectations of their constituents in need of educational, medical and other assistance.

    “We make do with our salaries, allowances and district allocations to extend help to our needy constituents,” the congressman said, adding that this situation will definitely impact on lawmakers’ chances of re-election.

    He was convinced, though, that the abolition of the pork barrel system could lead to a phase-out of the so-called “transactional politics,” under which majority of voters expect or demand concrete returns for their votes.

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