Legislation NewsPart 4 News: General Business Environment

Belmonte tells House members: Speed up Cha-cha deliberations

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HOUSE Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has instructed members of the lower chamber to fast-track floor deliberations of the measure amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Belmonte said that Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 1, or the proposed amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution, should be passed before the sine die adjournment on June 12 to incorporate a plebiscite for Charter change (Cha-cha) with the 2016 national and local elections.

“We will fast-track the deliberation, so the plebiscite for it will be done alongside with the 2016 national and local elections,” he said.

Belmonte added that the government may hold the plebiscite for Cha-cha alongside the 2016 national elections, instead of spending for a separate poll, which, he said, needs at least P7 billion to P8 billion.

“We might have [a] difficult time to get these several billions necessary for the plebiscite. The plebiscite is the crucial thing for economic Cha-cha,” Belmonte said.

He also said that many Filipino voters participate during presidential elections.

According to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the highest turnout of voting population participating in a particular election is during the presidential elections.

On the other hand, the Comelec has said that, without a joint resolution approved by Congress, it is not possible to put a rider question in the 2016 ballot on changing the Constitution.

Belmonte, however, said that he is willing to file a resolution allowing the plebiscite alongside the 2016 national and local elections.

The resolution, filed by Belmonte and Sen. Ralph Recto, is eyeing to amend economic provisions on the 60-40 rule that limits foreign ownership of certain activities in the Philippines.

The resolution will include the phrase “unless provided by law” in the foreign-ownership provision of the Constitution, particularly land ownership, public utilities, natural resources, media and advertising industries.

Under Article XII of the Constitution, foreign investors are prohibited to own more than 40 percent of real properties and businesses, while they are totally restricted to exploit natural resources and own any company in the media industry.

The amendments to the Charter will be approved through separate votings by both Chambers, with a three-fourths vote required from them.

Moreover, Belmonte reiterated that the Cha-cha  move will be a larger contributor to economic growth, as foreign direct investments are seen to increase once ownership on estates and corporations—one of the issues raised by investors for not investing in the country—is relaxed.

The Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce and Philippine business groups already expressed support for the passage of the economic Cha-cha.

In an earlier interview, House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said that RBH 1 should be passed into a law before Congress’s sine die adjournment in June this year, because “the month of August is for the annual budget deliberations, while the remaining months are for the campaign period [for 2016 national elections], so we expect the lack of quorum.”

He said Belmonte’s economic Cha-cha remains as one of the top priorities of the lower chamber.

But he admitted that Belmonte’s economic Cha-cha is a legislative priority of the House, “that it is not yet a legislative priority of the Senate.”



Source: https://www.businessmirror.com.ph/belmonte-tells-house-members-speed-up-cha-cha-deliberations/

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