Change on Charter's econ provisions approved

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Monday, March 3, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- The House committee on constitutional amendments approved on Monday the controversial Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, which seeks to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Voting 24 in favor, two against and one abstention, the house panel finally put a verdict on the proposal, which would place the phrase "Unless Otherwise Provided by Law" in portions of the present Constitution particularly on Sections 2, 3, 7, 10, and 11 of Article 12 (National Patrimony and Economy); Section 4 of Article 14 (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports); and Section 11 of Article 16 (General Provisions).

The resolution authored by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., will open opportunities for more foreign investments, as Congress can pass a law that will lift restriction on foreign ownership.

The lawmakers on Monday were still debating whether to continue with the on-going public consultation with their constituents on the proposed Charter Change (Cha-Cha) when Misamis Occidental Representative Henry Ominal suddenly placed a motion for nominal voting for the proposed constitutional amendments, which was later seconded by Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Farinas.

Militant lawmakers Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna Party-list where the only members of the committee who opposed the resolution while Pampanga Representative Oscar Rodriguez abstained from the voting.

House Majority leader Neptali Gonzales III who is no show during the first three hearing was present during Monday's voting.

Muntinlupa City Representative Rodolfo Biazon said that lawmakers should first continue with their public consultation since the proposed Cha-Cha will still undergo go referendum through plebiscite.

"If we are able to pass this (Cha-Cha) but it will not win on the plebiscite, then all the efforts here are all useless," Biazon said.

Speaker Belmonte previously stated that the legislators would be able to raise the proposed Charter change beyond the committee level after Congress takes a break by March 15. The proposal is expected to reach the House plenary for debate by early part of May.

He also vowed that he will not allow any member to insert any provision other than what is specified in the resolution.

Davao City Representative Mylene Garcia-Albano, panel chair, said committee report is now being prepared to be presented in the plenary for the second reading approval.

Belmonte added that they have no plans of “rail-roading” the amendments once it reaches the plenary for debate since he believed that people, the one who will have the final say must be educated first.

"We need the people to learn a little bit more about it, to know the reasons, so definitely we have no intention to pass that [on plenary] before the break," the Speaker said. (Sunnex)

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