For those who have not yet fully digested the implications of what Congress, both the upper house and the lower house, intend to do with the 1987 Philippine Constitution perhaps now is time to delve deeper into what our lawmakers really want to change in the basic law of the land to obtain a better perspective of the whole thing. For starters, the House of Representatives or so-called lower house of Congress, has constituted itself into a Committee of the whole to prepare itself in deliberating and tackling Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7 filed by Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Deputy Speaker David Suarez, and Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe of the Lower House.

According to the authors of the bill RBH No 7 is proposing the same economic provisions via constituent assembly which is similar to what the Senate had also proposed under Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) NO. 6 filed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. The term Committee of the Whole refers to a meeting of a legislative or deliberative assembly using procedural rules that are based on those of a committee, except that in this case the committee includes all members of the assembly. Under this legislative procedure the committee of the whole usually operates under informal parliamentary procedures and the members are allowed a wider latitude of discretion in airing their
views on the matter being deliberated upon without the application of rigid rules of procedure.

This will also save time in their deliberations since all members will already be accommodated during the deliberation thereby fast tracking the legislative process and determination. But to know more about the intention of Congress in proposing amendments to the Constitution is to understand that the changes they want to make in the
Constitution is simply to subject the basic law of the land into providing the lawmakers enough elbow room and more opportunity to craft and enact laws that would enable more comprehensive foreign ownership of business in the country without running afoul with the economic provisions of the Constitution.

These alleged restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution is what is sought to be changed by Congress, more
specifically Articles XII, XIV, XVI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. All three Articles of the basic law contains and includes may important provisions but as far as Congress is concerned and under RBH No. 7 what they specifically want is to insert the phrase “unless provided by law” in Section 11 of Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), which essentially bars or prohibits foreign ownership of a public utility unless in cases where 60% of the total capital
belongs to Filipino citizens.

In Section 4 of Article XIV of the Constitution (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports) the phrase “unless provided by law” is to be inserted in the said provision which likewise prohibits foreign ownership of basic educational institutions except or unless 60% of the capital belongs to Filipino citizens. And again in Section 11 of Article XVI of the Constitution (General Provisions) where the lawmakers want to insert the phrase “unless provided by law” in to portions: first, the phrase is to be inserted in the provision that bars foreigners from ownership in the advertising industry in the country except in cases where 70% of the total capital belongs to Filipino
citizens, and in the provision that limits the capital share of foreign investors.

So by the simple expediency of inserting the phrase of “unless provided by law” in relevant provisions of the Constitution Congress will thus have amended the basic law of the land and provided them with the opportunity to make laws that would in essence allow complete and total foreign ownership of vital business industries and services in the country. This is what Congress want and if deliberations will fall through and RBH No. 7 is favorably acted by both chambers of Congress then it will be up to the people to approve or reject it in what is called a plebiscite. Do we need this amendments in the 1987 Constitution? Perhaps. Ultimately it will be the vote of the people that will eventually decide.

Amianan Balita Ngayon