No turning back for economic ChaCha – Belmonte

By , on May 17, 2015


President Benigno S. Aquino III is shown with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon, before delivering his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the Joint Session of the 16th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday (July 28). (Photo by  Benhur Arcayan / Malacanang Photo Bureau)
President Benigno S. Aquino III is shown with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon, before delivering his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the Joint Session of the 16th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday (July 28). (Photo by Benhur Arcayan / Malacanang Photo Bureau)

MANILA — The measure that will lift the Philippine economic situation to a better position might end up into waste should Congress does not throw their support to give a chance in passing this into law, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., said over the weekend.

Although he said he would not give up until after it was over, adding that he would try to convince his colleagues of “no turning back” because he was fully aware that this could make a giant leap in our economy if passed into law.

Belmonte, the principal sponsor of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 1 in the House of Representatives feared that he could not get the needed vote that would give life to the measure.

Asked why he is not asking President Aquino’s help to push the measure, Belmonte said he tried but there was no positive feedback to his request.

In June last year, President Aquino announced his stance against Cha-cha until 2016, saying the Congress was wasting time on this issue.

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., has said that he had yet to see a signal that the President had relented on his firm belief there was no need to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Better known as economic Cha-cha, he said he was not sure to get the 2/3 or 197 votes needed to pass it on third and final reading.

“We will be able to approve it on second reading in June [before our sine die adjournment] but big effort will be needed during the third reading,” he reiterated as he started campaigning to his colleagues to support the measure.

Since last year, the RBH 1 is still under period of interpellation in the plenary.

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, which ratified during the term of the President’s mother, then-President Corazon Aquino, 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 House of Representatives uses viva voce voting for second reading while nominal voting for third reading.

Belmonte also reiterated that the Cha-cha is a larger contributor to economic growth as foreign direct investments (FDI) 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.

Belmonte added that the government may hold the plebiscite for Cha-cha alongside the 2016 national elections instead of spending a separate election, which needs at least Php 7 billion to Php 8 billion.

“If we don’t have funds for the plebiscite it is ok for me to conduct the plebiscite for Cha-cha alongside the 2016 presidential elections,” he said, adding, “the plebiscite is the crucial thing for economic Chacha.”

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

Moreover, Belmonte said that the lower chamber was still the main proponent of the economic Cha-cha and senators would still wait for the House version once it passed the third reading before the upper house tackles it.