Sonny’s economic Cha-cha is dead

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The congressional initiative to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution is dead.

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Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., late Wednesday night decided not to put into a vote his proposed economic Charter Change (Cha-cha) after he failed to get the needed number to pass on third and final reading the controversial measure.

Belmonte, who authored the Resolution of Both Houses No. 1. admitted that his best was not good enough because he failed to convince and muster the needed 119 solid votes in his favor.

The Belmonte initiative is proposing to lift the 40 percent limit on foreign ownership of public utilities, land and media.

The House was supposed to vote on Belmonte’s resolution, during the last session day of the 2nd regular session of the 16th Congress on Wednesday. The measure needed 217 favorable votes or three-fourths of the 291-strong Congress to subject the proposal to Senate action. There were 267 lawmakers present on Wednesday night, but the voting still did not push through.

“We did not have the numbers. We decided that we don’t want to take a risk. Malabo na. (It’s a long shot),” a visibly defeated Belmonte told reporters after the session was adjourned sine die.

“Anyway, I just wanted to show that (amending the Constitution) could be done. But frankly, since we only have 21 senators and some of them are not interested in the measure… passing the Cha-cha would only be a gesture on our part. But it is a good gesture, a political statement,” he added

But the witty lawmaker said it is “not yet over until it’s over” because there is still time to pass the measure when they come back on July 27, the start of third regular session.

Belmonte indicated some congressmen didn’t want to just amend the economic provisions. His statement in the evening was a far cry from the optimism earlier in the day.

In his sine die speech, Belmonte said that the bill, which was approved on 2nd reading last week, is the most advanced any attempted amendment has gone.

With PNA

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