May 24, 2024 People's Journal 73 views

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez has reiterated the commitment of the House of Representatives to focusing solely on amending the “restrictive” economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, with the aim of creating an inclusive economy that serves the welfare of all Filipinos.

“The House’s objective is economic reforms for the entire Philippines, ensuring that an all-inclusive economy benefits everyone,” Speaker Romualdez stated in Filipino during an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the Bagong Pilipinas Serbisyo Fair (BPSF) in Tawi-Tawi province last Thursday.

The leader of the 300-plus-strong legislative chamber made this statement in response to questions about the Senate’s perceived opposition to constitutional reforms under the new leadership of Senate President Chiz Escudero.

Speaker Romualdez said he will find out the Senate’s direction on economic constitutional amendments after meeting its new leader.

“Well, let’s wait and see because we haven’t talked yet, we haven’t had a meeting,” he said.

Last March, the House approved on final reading Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7, which seeks to relax foreign ownership restrictions in three key sectors – public utilities, higher education, and advertising.

RBH No. 7 aims to adapt to global economic changes while protecting national interests, calling for a more open and robust economy to create more jobs and ensure a prosperous future for all Filipinos.

A similar measure—RBH No. 6—is pending with a Senate subcommittee, which recently held a public consultation in Baguio City to gauge people’s sentiments on proposed amendments to economic constitutional provisions.

Asked about his hopes for the new Senate leadership’s priorities, Speaker Romualdez emphasized the importance of passing the measures outlined by the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) and President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. in his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

He also expressed hope that the Escudero-led Senate will swiftly act on the numerous local bills already approved by the House.

“Just finish the priority LEDAC measures, SONA measures requested by our President,” Speaker Romualdez requested the Senate.

“But of course, you can see all of us congressmen here, all of our local bills, we have many local bills for our concerns, I hope they (senators) finish those,” he added.

On the part of the House, Speaker Romualdez cited its productivity and success in passing all significant measures.

“Yes, 100 percent,” Speaker Romualdez said when asked about the House’s action on LEDAC and SONA priorities. “All of that, the latest was the amendments to the Procurement Act so the implementation of our government programs and projects will be faster.”

Meanwhile, Speaker Romualdez highlighted the importance of democratic processes in addressing challenges with the new Senate leadership.

“That’s the beauty of democracy, everything can be discussed. We can have meetings, caucuses, but we’re always confident because all of us, whether in Congress or the Senate, have the goal of serving the Filipino people,” he said.

The House chief also welcomed the opportunity for collaboration and the robust exchange of ideas between the two chambers of Congress.

“We in the House look forward to challenges and we always enjoy working with our friends in the Senate,” Speaker Romualdez said.

On the topic of divorce legislation which recently passed the House, Speaker Romualdez acknowledged the narrow margin of the vote and highlighted the important role of individual conscience in shaping the decision.

“It was close, but it was a conscience vote,” Speaker Romualdez said.

Voting 131-109 with 20 abstentions, the House approved last Thursday House Bill (HB) No. 9349 or the proposed Absolute Divorce Act.

Speaker Romualdez was interviewed by reporters during the BPSF in Tawi-Tawi, where some P699 million worth of government services and assistance were delivered and extended to 135,000 beneficiaries.

With nearly 100 House members present in Tawi-Tawi, this BPSF had the highest attendance among lawmakers to date.

The Tawi-Tawi BPSF is the 18th installment of the Serbisyo Caravan that aims to cover all 82 provinces in the country.

Speaker Romualdez is one of the main proponents and prime mover of BPSF, the country’s biggest service caravan aimed at providing major government services to less fortunate Filipinos.