April 17, 2024

With a vote of 288 in favor and eight against including two abstentions, the House of Representatives has approved the proposed amendments to the Constitution’s restrictive economic provisions and allowed Congress to pass enabling laws that would relax restrictions on foreign ownership in order to boost foreign investments.
House Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 7 was approved in six session days of deliberation by the House Committee of the Whole and three session days of debate at the plenary level.
RBH 7 provides the industries of public utility, basic education, and advertising would be opened to foreign ownership by adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in Section 11 of Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), Section 4 of Article XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports), and Section 11 of Article XVI (General Provisions)
The Senate has not done its part but is expected to and the only question now is how to count the votes, which the upper chamber wants to be separately while the lower chamber wants it done jointly.
The Aquino-appointed commissioners of the Constitution intended a unicameral legislature thus voting should be jointly although every elected lawmaker has his one vote.
Article 17, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that amendments may pass by a three-fourths vote.
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has opined that this is an inadvertence, as they forgot to fix the original provisions because the members of the Constituent Commission thought Congress would be unicameral.
The previous provisions of the Constitution stated that Congress as one or as a whole, meets jointly as a constituent assembly.
In this instance, congressmen and senators are participating in the constituent assembly not as legislators but as delegates to a Charter change body.
After the joint meeting, the lawmakers, whether they are from the Senate or the House – would get one vote since they are considered as a singular body. They are not crafting laws, thus there is no bicameral conference. Because of these the three-fourth vote is obtained voting jointly or separately?
That’s the big question that the Supreme Court should resolve because the constituent assembly is unicameral, which means no senator, no congressman, no representative, no Senate.
I would have preferred a Constitutional Convention where delegates are elected from every congressional district to introduce amendments but the cost would be too high.
At least contrary to the perverted imagination of pessimists, there is nothing political, term extensions in RBH 7.
Medyo nakukulangan lang ako with the amendment because it should have included foreign ownership of lands for investors.
As my favorite taipan, David says “bakit di n’yo bentahan ng lupa yung investor? Anyway, pag-alis nya, ‘di naman nya madadala yung lupa.” Touche!
Maybe in the next Congress, I could introduce the amendment.
Of course, there is still a plebiscite to be called for us public who will eventually vote in favor or against the proposed amendments.
Then the Supreme Court as the final arbiter.