March 4, 2024 People's Journal 99 views

Senate should not allow big business, monopolies to dominate Charter change discussions – solon

HOUSE Assistant Majority Leader and Zambales Rep. Jeferson Khonghun said that the Senate should not be paying too much attention to big businesses opposing efforts to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution, saying their opposition smacks of self-interest and self-preservation.

Khonghun, who was one of the lawmakers present during the daily press briefing of the House of Representatives, was reacting to reports that some business leaders expressed apprehension about opening up the Philippine economy to foreign investors if economic provisions of the Charter are amended.

“So sana maging open-minded yung ating mga Senador. Wag lang sana nilang tignan ‘yung kung ano yung kanilang (big businesses) kalagayan ngayon. Dahil siguro marami sa kanila (big businesses) ay may mga pinoproteksyonan din na mga interest na negosyo or may pinoproteksyonan na kanya-kanyang pagmomonopola ng kanilang negosyo,” Khonghun, vice chair of the House Committee on Energy, said.

“So sana ano, sabi nga nila maging open-minded sana yung ating mga Senador sa pagbabago,” he added.

Khonghun said that the propriety of amending the rather restrictive provisions of the Constitution has already been established by experts – economists and legal luminaries alike – in both the hearings of the Senate subcommittee and in the Committee of the Whole in the House of Representatives.

“Nakita naman natin sa mga pagdinig noong nakaraang tatlong araw. Marami ang nagsasabi, mga ekonomista, mga mga constitutionalist, na kailangan na talagang baguhin ang ating Constitution dahil nagiging sagabal ito sa mga gustong mamuhunan dito sa ating bansa,” he said.

Khonghun also said many resource persons have already stated that due to the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, Filipinos stayed poor because of a lack of opportunities that can be addressed by allowing more foreign investments in the country.

“Matagal na ‘yung Constitution natin na nandiyan at marami ang nagsasabi na ‘yung mga mahihirap lalo naghihirap. Dahil nga takot yung ating mga negosyante, ‘yung mga negosyante sa ibang bansa na mamumuhunan sa Pilipinas, dahil nga nagiging sagabal dito ‘yung ating Constitution,” he said.

“So dito mo makikita na talagang Congress is doing everything, na magagawa niya para matulungan ‘yung ating mamamayan na magkaroon ng trabaho,” he added.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, who was also present in the press briefing, said these big businesses should welcome competition from foreign investors when the country is opened up through the amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution.

“Now, I have also been told especially nung mga nakakausap ko din sa grassroots na medyo tinatawag natin makakaliwa, sabi nila to, ‘Ma’m takot ho kasi yung ibang mga businessman lalo na ‘yung mga bigtime businessman na magkakaroon ng kompetensiya from foreign investors, they would lose their monopolies,” she recounted.

“You know, if you’re really loyal to the interest of a country, you will welcome competition, and all know that. Competition is good because when there is competition, companies will vie for customers and clients and how do they do that? By improving the quality of their services, of their products and also by lowering prices,” Roman said.

“So, this is how these amendments to the economic provision can directly impact the lives of so many Filipinos. I would like to think of course that our Senators remain loyal to their true calling, which is to protect the interest of the Filipino people, not the interest of the few monopolies.”