The Inter-agency Task Force on Constitutional Reforms (IATF-CORE) on Tuesday appealed to the Senate to start deliberating on a proposed joint resolution that will pave the way for economic reforms even as it commended the House of Representatives for immediately approving it.

In IATF CORE Resolution No. 2021-02, the task force requested the Senate through Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, to schedule Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2 in the Senate’s calendar of business at the earliest possible time.

Sotto earlier told the media that purely economic cha-cha has a chance of passing and that the Senate has until February of next year to pass the resolution.

In IATF CORE Resolution No. 2021-01, the task force commended the House of Representatives, especially the Committee on Constitutional Reforms, for adopting the lifting of the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The IATF-CORE committed its members to provide technical support as resource persons during the Senate’s hearing and deliberations to fully inform the public of the objectives and effects of the proposed constitutional reform.

The Resolutions were signed by IATF CORE Chairman and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel Avisado, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles, Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer Luz E. Pascual, Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Nicholas Ty, University of the Philippines (UP) Law Dean Edgardo Carlo Vistan, and Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) President Engelbert Caronan.

It said the sentiment from a broad cross-section of society especially the economic and business sectors for a review of the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to make it more attuned and responsive to the demands of the times have been sustained and affirmed with the majority of Filipinos who support President Rodrigo Duterte’s agenda of change.

During the virtual press conference on the resolutions hosted by the DILG, Undersecretary and Spokesman Jonathan Malaya said that the IATF-CORE asked Congress to pass a package of economic legislation to enable the country to recover completely from the pandemic.

“When we talk about the economic legislation that is requested from Congress, we are not just talking about one item but we’re talking about a package of reforms,” Malaya told reporters.

Malaya said the economic bills on public services, retail and foreign investments, which were also supported by the IATF-CORE, were important to the country’s short-term recovery from the pandemic but that these package of reforms must also include the amendment of the economic provisions of the constitution so that our recovery is long-term.

“It is the position of the IATF-CORE that for us to be able to recover in the long term and ensure the growth and development of our country, we need economic charter change,” he stressed.

Malaya further said the three bills plus the economic charter change were the perfect antidotes to respond to the effects of the pandemic on the economy.

“Pakiusap po ng IATF-CORE is if the Senate can tackle this immediately before the filing of certificates of candidacy in October ay mas maigi po para po bago mapag-usapan ang politika ay naisabatas na po natin,” Malaya said.

“Let’s take this opportunity now. After all, taong-bayan naman ang magde-decide in a plebiscite,” he added.

Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr., chair of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, assured the IATF-CORE that his committee and the House would not give up on the Senate.

Garbin, who was present at the press conference to receive the resolution, said the efforts on constitutional reforms had gone a long way.

“Ito ay nasa Senado na. Patuloy lang, trabahuhin natin, imulat natin sa ating taong-bayan ang benepisyo at kung ano ang maidadala nito sa ating bansa,” Garbin said.

“Will it be good for our country? Will it bring benefits to the Filipino people? Ang sagot ay, 'Yes' at ‘wag natin sayangin at patuloy na ilaban natin itong makabuluhang Constitutional Reform na ito,” he said.

Garbin said there was no political agenda in pushing for the resolution because no incumbent congressmen or congresswomen would benefit from it.“This one will not be signed by the President. It will be the Filipino people who will approve it,” he stressed.

For his part, Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Undersecretary Gerard Salapantan said that RBH 2 will provide the necessary impetus towards a more vibrant economy.

“The PLLO commits to work with the IATF-CORE in bringing this and seeking the cooperation and approval of the Senate of the RBH 2," Salapantan said.

"Sana po we can work hand in hand so that by September, maipasa na po natin ito,” he added.

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