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Congress gets ‘Cha-cha’ consensus, says Marcos

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House poised to approve RBH 7 this week before Lent break

Both chambers of Congress have finally come to terms with the proposed amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, President Marcos said over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is set to approve on third and final reading the proposed amendments to the economic provisions of the Charter.

“So, that is the legislative state of play as it were. The Senate is continuing with the hearings. The House (of Representatives) has already passed on second reading. What is more important than all of that for me, is that it is practically the same resolution. And that is, that’s for me the key point in this process. We have arrived at a consensus,” the President told reporters in Prague on Friday before heading home from his five-day trip to Germany and the Czech Republic.

“We all knew how (and) when this began, how contentious this was.

Well, we seem to be going down a common road now between the two houses. So, that for me is the important thing,” he added.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the lower chamber has used some time deliberating on a House resolution on the Charter change issue and he will let the discussions focus on that.

The House of Representatives approved on Wednesday the merged measures of both chambers dubbed Resolution of Both Houses No. 7, which seeks to allow increased foreign ownership in vital industries.

Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate is ontrack and has about three more hearings left to sum up the discussions.

The President earlier pointed out that the existing economic provisions are hindering potential investors from proceeding with their operations in the country.

Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. said the House expects to approve the measure before they adjourn on Wednesday.

Gonzales said RBH No. 7 “will be approved as is” based on recommendations by the Committee of the Whole House chaired by Speaker Romualdez.

Gonzales is one of the principal authors of RBH No. 7, which is analmost exact reproduction of RBH No. 6, introduced in the Senate by Zubiri and Senators Loren Legarda and Juan Edgardo Angara.

RBH Nos. 6 and 7 are both entitled “A Resolution of Both Houses of Congress proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, particularly on Articles XII, XIV and XVI.”

“We have proven the doubters wrong. No term extension proposal for any elective official. I hope they will now believe President BBM’s statement that his advocacy was confined only to changing the economic provisions,” Gonzales said.

The proposed House and Senate changes are on the grant of legislativefranchises to and ownership (60-40) of public utilities in Article XII, the administration and control of basic educational facilities in Article XIV and ownership of advertising firms (70-30) in Article XVI.

The suggested principal amendments are the insertion of the phrase, “unless otherwise provided by law,” which would empower Congress to change present economic restrictions in the nation’s basic law and in the administration of basic educational facilities, and the addition of the qualifier “basic” in Article XIV.

“We have proven the doubters wrong. No term extension proposal for anyelective official. I hope they will now believe President BBM’s statement that his advocacy was confined only to changing the economic provisions,” Gonzales said.

Zubiri, who earlier said he would not force his colleagues to vote for amending the Charter as it might cost him his position, added they needed more time to wrap up the discussions.

“We’re convincing our colleagues to make sure we have the three-fourths vote on this measure. It’s ongoing. We’re on track,” said Zubiri, who joined the Philippine delegation in Prague.

”We have to make sure to convince our colleagues on this issue,that’s why we need a bit more time but it’s being done. Nothing is stalled,” he added.

For his part, Romualdez said the House has followed the lead of theSenate in crafting the amendments.

The House last week approved on second reading RBH No. 7 and was set to finalize the approval on third reading this week before their Lenten break.

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