RBH 7 to be ‘mourned’ at Senate – Lagman

RBH 7 to be ‘mourned’ at Senate – Lagman

EVEN if Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 7 is passed by the House of Representatives, a leading opposition congressman believes that it will “die” at the Senate, where it has little support.

RBH 7 seeks to amend provisions in the Constitution that restrict foreign ownership of schools, telecommunications utilities, and certain media assets.

In a media briefing on Friday, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said RBH 7 will go through episodes of joy and mourning that characterize Holy Week.

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman. File Photo

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman. File Photo

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman. File Photo

“Next week, pag pinasa ng lower house ‘yung RBH no. 7, ‘yan ay Palm Sunday, ang daming hallelujahs, pero doon sa Senado (Next week, if the lower house passes RBH no. 7, that would be like Palm Sunday, where there are so many hallelujahs, but in the Senate), we are going to mourn it as if [it were] Good Friday,” Lagman said.

He said it is a “foregone conclusion” that RBH 7, which was passed on second reading on Tuesday night, will be approved on third and final reading next week.

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Lagman admitted that the opponents of RBH 7 “do not have” a strategy to challenge the overwhelming majority vote in the House, so they would instead present their arguments against economic charter change, especially on the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” directly to the public and the media.

“The term ‘otherwise provided by law’ has been discussed for so long, but I would like to put myself in the shoes of an investor. I want to know what would be the bits and bobs and parameters if I put equity there? Would that increase to 100 percent? 80 percent or minimal? That ‘otherwise provided by law’ term is nebulous,” Lagman said.

He said the phrase will leave voters in the supposed future plebiscite “in limbo,” since they will not know what Congress will do in the provision.

Calixto Chikiamco of the Foundation for Economic Freedom defended the move to ease the economic restrictions, saying that while there is legislation that allows the entry of foreign investors even in certain sectors, it has been challenged in the Supreme Court for its constitutionality.

“Removing these restrictions in the Constitution will remove that uncertainty… That is why there is still a need to remove all those restrictions, and besides, RBH 7 includes both education, public utilities and advertising. Ideally, it should cover the others, but Congress has deemed it fit to leave to the others,” Chikiamco said.

He cited safeguards under the current law that would prevent foreign entities from compromising Philippine-owned businesses in case of war or conflict.

Chikiamco, who is an advocate of charter change, said the approval of RBH 7 will signal to foreign investors that the Philippines is serious in wooing them.

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