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Philippines House panel calls for change
By Manolo B. Jara March 04, 2014
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MANILA: Voting 24 in favour, two against and one abstention, a powerful committee in the House of Representatives on Monday approved a resolution calling for Charter change (Cha-cha) to encourage more foreign investments.

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments approved the resolution sponsored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte after holding public hearings on the issue.

The resolution now goes to the House plenary for debates on the floor before the 386 members are to vote on the issue.

Significantly, the committee passed the resolution despite opposition from President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino who argued there was no need to amend the 1987 Constitution in order to attract more foreign investments and help sustain the country’s economic momentum.

Aquino cited as an example the case of China whose economy continued to grow without amending its Constitution.

But Belmonte, a close Aquino ally, cited the urgent need for Cha-cha particularly to amend the economic provisions that limit foreign ownership of lands and public utilities to just 40 per cent.

Under the Belmonte proposal, the House and the Senate would act on Cha-cha separately before this would be submitted to the people either for approval or rejection through a plebiscite.

Former president Fidel Ramos earlier joined Belmonte in calling for Cha-cha to attract more foreign investments, which, in turn, could lead to the employment of more Filipinos.

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