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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Cagayan lawmaker claim that business groups flip flopped on support for Cha-cha needs context

Needs Context

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez claimed that the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) have walked back on their support for amending the 1987 Constitution. This needs context.

Rodriguez was reacting to a March 24 joint statement issued by six big business organizations, including the MBC and FINEX, opposing the moves at the House of Representatives for a constitutional convention (Con-con) to introduce amendments to the economic provisions of the Charter.

STATEMENT

In a statement on March 26, Rodriguez said:

“MBC and Finex are now against Charter amendments. Before this position, they were in favor of changing the Constitution’s economic provisions.”

 

Source: Rep. Rufus Rodriguez Statement, Manila Bulletin, Malaya, The Philippine Star, March 26, 2023

FACT

The MBC and FINEX did not explicitly say they are against amending the economic provisions of the Constitution. However, they opposed the mode preferred by the House to introduce amendments, emphasizing the high cost of constituting a Con-con and the timing to do it.

The cost of setting up a Con-con, which the National Economic and Development Authority had estimated at P14 to P28 billion, “can be better used on agriculture to address the high inflation, transportation to enable Filipinos to get to work and home in much less time, and needed social services like health, education, and social security,” they said in the joint statement with Filipina CEO Circle, Justice Reform Initiative, Philippine Women’s Economic Network, Inc. and Women Business Council Philippines.

The business groups described having a Con-con to amend the Constitution as a “potentially disruptive proposal at a time when the country may be poised to regain its economic momentum.”

They said:

“Investors look for stability when making investment decisions. The possibly lengthy and fractious process of amending the Constitution may make investors take a wait and see attitude for an extended period of time and therefore derail the impact of the reforms.”

 

Source: Makati Business Club, Joint Statement on Proposed Constitutional Convention, March 24, 2023

The business groups acknowledged that recently enacted laws – such as the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investment Act – have addressed provisions in the Constitution that impede trade, investment, innovation, competition, and economic and job growth.

BACKSTORY

The House of Representatives approved on March 6  Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 with a vote of 301 in favor, 6 against and one abstention. It calls for the convening of a Constitutional convention (Con-con) to introduce amendments to the economic provisions of the charter. Eight days later, the House approved House Bill No. 7352, an enabling measure for RBH No. 6 that provides the procedure for the establishment of a Con-con.The Senate has yet to approve RBH No. 6 and its implementing bill.

Four senatorsAquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Loren Legarda, Nancy Binay and Risa Hontiveros – have expressed their opposition to  Charter change at this time, stating that it might derail the focus of Congress in addressing problems in the agriculture, health and labor sectors.

At least three times last month, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri stated that  Charter change is not a priority, echoing the position of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

 

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Sources

Makati Business Club, About Us, Accessed April 3, 2023

Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, History, Accessed April 3, 2023

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez Statement

CNN Philippines, House leader: Charter change to cost ₱9.5 billion, Feb. 22, 2023

Inquirer.net, Charter change via con-con a ‘disservice’ to Filipinos, says Enrile, March 22, 2023

Makati Business Club, Joint Statement on Proposed Constitutional Convention, March 24, 2023

Official Gazette of the Philippines, Public Service Act, March 21, 2022

Official Gazette of the Philippines, Retail Trade Liberalization Act, Dec. 10, 2021

Official Gazette of the Philippines, Foreign Investment Act, March 2, 2022

Malaya Business Insight, Con-ass cheaper than con-con as Charter change mode – NEDA, March 3, 2023

House on RBH No. 6

House on H.B. 7352

Senators’ stance on Cha-Cha

Zubiri on Cha-Cha

President Bongbong Marcos on Cha-Cha

Manila Bulletin, Marcos: Charter change not a priority, Feb. 13, 2023

 

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)