Philippines Lawmakers to Open Talks on Amending Constitution

Philippines House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco renewed a proposal to amend the country’s Constitution by lifting restrictive economic provisions to attract more foreign investments.

A resolution from the Senate and the House of Representatives seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to several sections of the Constitution involving national patrimony and economy; education, science and technology; arts, culture and sports and general provisions, Velasco said.

“The addition of this phrase will allow Congress to enact laws to free up the economy to foreign investors, or maintain the status quo,” he said in a statement posted on the House website Sunday. “We need to seize the momentum if we are to fully recover from the economic devastation of Covid-19.”

Previous efforts to amend the constitution have floundered, with opinion polls showing that the majority of Filipinos are wary of actions they perceive could potentially lead to a power grab. If plans push through, it would be the first change to a constitution that was enacted after the overthrow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. The law prohibits the president from seeking re-election after a single term of six years.

Debates on proposed amendments are expected to be completed before the end of the year, the speaker said. The arguments would then be presented to the public for ratification alongside the election of new leaders in 2022, he said.

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