Economic Cha-cha’s approval by yearend seen

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Constitutional amendments that would lift restrictions on foreign ownership of public utilities are expected to secure congressional approval by yearend.

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House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales 2nd of Mandaluyong City (Metro Manila) on Thursday announced such possibility in the aftermath of Senate President Franklin Drilon’s stance that the Senate has no time left for Charter change or Cha-cha because of the pending proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and the P2.606-trillion budget for 2015.

Resolution of Both Houses 1 authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. removes the 40- percent limit on foreign ownership of public utilities such as water, telecommunications, schools, land, media and advertising firms.

“The economic Cha-cha  would only have five interpellators left. The interpellation could finish ahead of the Anti-Political Dynasty [measure]. If we are lucky, then we can approve it this year,” Gonzales said.

But he would not declare victory this early, apparently because  three-fourths of the 290 members of the House of Representatives or 218 of them should vote for the proposed constitutional amendments for the changes to take effect.

“After the period of interpellation, you still have a period of amendments. After that, you will have to call a caucus. We need people on the floor,” Gonzales said.

He, however, ruled out any discussion on amending term limits of public officials under the 28-year-old Philippine Constitution.

“There’s no bill of such nature filed. There is nothing to talk about because nothing has been filed. We are tackling Bangsamoro Basic Law next month, as well as the national budget . . . We can’t afford to have divided attention,” Gonzales said.

LLANESCA T. PANT

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