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Aquino ally files bill seeking Charter change
By Manolo B. Jara July 10, 2013
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MANILA: Despite its rejection by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, a staunch administration ally on Tuesday filed a resolution seeking Charter change, more popularly known as Cha-cha, to encourage the entry of more foreign investors into the Philippines.

In filing the resolution, Speaker Feliciano explained his main aim was to amend the “restrictive” economic provisions of the Constitution, which has been supported by 13 of the country’s biggest business groups.

“My idea is not to change the economic provisions just for the sake of changing,” said Belmonte who is widely acknowledged to be re-elected as the House speaker when the 15th Congress is to convene in July.

“We have so many resources that have remained untapped,” Belmonte added, “unless we are able to fully develop them.”

The resolution would allow the Senate and the House to introduce changes in the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution, which was drafted during the time of Aquino’s mother, the late global democracy icon president Corazon Aquino.

In particular, Belmonte and other Cha-cha adherents said they wanted to amend the constitutional provisions limiting foreign ownership of land and business interests in the Philippines.

On Friday, 13 of the country’s biggest and influential business groups made public their call for Aquino to reconsider his stand against Cha-cha by amending the constitution’s restrictive provisions to help sustain the momentum in the country’s economic growth to make it more inclusive and employ more Filipinos.

These included the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Makati Business Club and the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.

But through his spokesman Secretary Edwin Lacierda, Aquino immediately reacted and reiterated his opposition to Cha-cha, pointing out the country can keep its growth momentum “without constitutional tinkering.”

“Our position is that economic development can happen without necessarily amending the constitution,” Lacierda emphasised, citing the robust growth of 7.8 per cent in gross domestic product achieved by the Philippines in the first quarter of the year.

Lacierda also pointed out that what businessmen need is a level playing field where rules are simple to do away with bureaucratic red tape and corrupt practices are not allowed.

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