By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. welcomed on Saturday the Lower Chamber’s adoption of his economic Charter change (Cha-cha) under its proposed Federal Constitution.
The main proponent of economic Cha-cha cited the pressing need to lift the restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to attract more foreign capital investments in the country.
“We need some flexibility in those provisions in order to be able to attract FDI (foreign direct investment) to our country, so that we can be more competitive,” Belmonte said in an interview after Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado, chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, disclosed that they adopted former Speaker’s proposal to amend Articles XII, XIV and XVI of the 1987 Constitution.
“If they propose a new constitution, better to have it there. When and whether it will be passed is another matter,” the former Speaker said.
Belmonte’s Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to several sections of the Constitution which restrict foreign ownership of land, natural resources, public utilities, media, and advertising. It seeks to lift the 40 percent limit on foreign ownership of public utilities, land and media.
Under the measure, the provisions to be amended include Sections 2, 3, 7, 10 and 11 of Article XII pertaining to National Patrimony and Economy; Section 4 of Article XIV pertaining to Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports; and Section 11 of Article XVI pertaining to General Provisions.
With each House voting separately and by a vote of three-fourths of all its members, the amendments will be done by the Senate and the House of Representatives, according to the measure.
In an interview with the Manila Bulletin, Mercado said the House will lift the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution.
“We decided to relax the restrictive economic provisions. We have considered the proposal of former Speaker Belmonte,” he said.
He said the Lower Chamber is done drafting its proposed Charter as early as February.
“It is more or less similar with the US Constitution. There is still Senate and Congress, still bicameral structure. There is regional assembly, regional governor. Meron pa ring cities and barangay,” he noted.
Mercado assured that they are committed to producing “a charter that is much better than the 1987 Constitution.”
He said his panel will convene to tackle the proposed Federal Constitution submitted by the 25-man Consultative Committee (Con-Com) to the House leadership after President delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).