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Charter change could lead to instability, employers warn

/ 05:55 AM February 21, 2014

Screen grab from ecop.org.ph

MANILA, Philippines—A Constitution where the economic provisions could be amended by law and subject to the whims of Congress could lead to instability, according to local employers and private school associations opposed to the mode of Charter change being proposed by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.

Belmonte is spearheading a campaign to ease the constitutional restrictions on foreigners doing business here by changing the economic provisions of the Constitution.

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However, instead of convening a constitutional convention to effect the changes, Belmonte proposes inserting the phrase “unless provided by law” to the economic provisions, thereby opening the way for Congress to pass the needed laws to bring about these changes.

Edgardo Lacson of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines on Thursday warned that this “might degrade the fundamental law to the level of an ordinary piece of legislation.”

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The proposed changes could lead to “instability” because future legislators might change the economic provisions any time by just passing a law, he said.

This might even have far-reaching implications even for the political and social aspects of the Constitution, he said.

“What will prevent other Congresses in the future from inserting the phrase in every other [provision] of the Constitution?” he said.

Lacson said ECOP was not opposed to the idea of amending the Constitution, but it believes that a constitutional convention would be the wise way of going about it.

A constitutional convention with elected members would promote participatory democracy, he said.

Also objecting to the Belmonte mode of changing the Charter’s economic provisions is the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea).

“We’re afraid that the economic provisions can be reduced merely to a statute and such therefore can be changed at any time,” said Antonio Abad, the Cocopea’s chief legal counsel, adding that Cocopea also favored a constitutional convention.—Leila B. Salaverria

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TAGS: Business, Charter change, Constitution, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Philippines
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