House leaders not giving up on Charter Change

By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2012 02:24 AM | Updated as of Aug 01 2012 09:14 PM

Open local industries to foreign investors, Belmonte tells Aquino

MANILA, Philippines - Lower House leaders are not about to give up on Charter Change. 

House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday described as a positive development that President Benigno Aquino decided to have the Cabinet clusters study his and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's proposal for amendments in the Constitution. 

Belmonte said Aquino asked his legal and economic managers to assess if there is a real need to change economic provisions of the Constitution.

He also said that the President also asked the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the private sector to come up with recommendations and studies on whether changing some economic provisions will open the country to more investments. 

Belmonte said he proposed 6 economic provisions to the President for the country to benefit from more investments. 

House Majority Leader Rep. Boyet Gonzales said the proposed revisions include opening up 100% ownership of land to foreigners, participation and ownership of foreign investors in public utilities for them to be more competitive and more market-driven.

He added the proposals also include opening the education, media and advertising markets to foreign investors.

Belmonte said amendments in the charter are possible if the President will be convinced by the Cabinet clusters. 

He said there is still time to amend the Constitution not by constitutional assembly but by simply passing enabling laws and passin them in Congress by a three-fourths vote.  

If this happens, ratification of the amendments on the charter can be voted on during the general elections of 2013, he added.

Meanwhile, House Committee of Appropriations Chairman Rep. Emilio Joseph Abaya said budget hearings will start at the committee level Wednesday.

The national budget is scheduled to be tackled in the plenary next month, he added.

He said everyone concerned with the national budget is welcome to join and observe the hearings.

Belmonte also said the debates on the reproductive health bill will continue in the next couple of days.

He has scheduled a vote to terminate the debates on August 7, with the next step being the voting on the bill on second reading.