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PCCI still getting inputs from members on federalism push

THE country’s largest business group is not issuing a statement yet on the government’s push for federalism, as it intends to meet first with top legal experts to be able to make an informed choice on the issue.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Maria Alegria Sibal-Limjoco also said the group is still in the process of surveying its members, especially those in the provinces who are expected to reap the benefits of a transition to federalism.

“I cannot tell you exactly yet because we are getting the consensus [of everyone]. We have 130 chapters all over the Philippines,” Limjoco told the BusinessMirror.

She also intends to hold a conference with top legal experts of the country, including former Chief Justices Hilario G. Davide Jr., Reynato S. Puno and Artemio V. Panganiban Jr., to explain to their members the possible changes in the Constitution. Through this, she said, the PCCI can make a position that is informed. 

“We don’t want to tell our members what is this and what is that. I want them to listen to the legal experts so that we will be guided in our position on this groundbreaking change in the government,” Limjoco noted. “We want to ensure that every business, that means all of our members, has its voice in our position paper. We want our position based on the membership, not on the leadership. That is how we will get it from them. We have to take it easy in coming up with a stance on this very crucial matter.”

Other business groups, particularly the Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, have already thrown in their support to Congress’s move to amend the 1987 Constitution. The groups are pushing for the lifting of economic restrictions in the highest law of the land, saying this will pave the way for a more conducive
business environment.

“Since 2000 Philippine business leaders and economists have recommended replacing the constitutional restrictions on foreign equity with specific laws,” the groups argued in a statement last Sunday. They said amending the Constitution is crucial to the fulfillment of this reform.

However, the groups called on the House of Representatives to recognize the autonomy of the Senate and allow it to vote separately. “We deem it more democratic for the two [chambers] to vote separately so as to recognize the autonomy of the Senate body and to avoid diluting the voice of our senators in this critical process,” they argued.

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