THE House of Representatives failed to pass on its last session Wednesday the resolution that would lift the 40-percent restriction on foreign ownership of public utilities and land in the country.

Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II said 267 lawmakers were present during the session but they decided to skip the approval of the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 1 on third and final reading due to lack of enough support.

"We didn't have the numbers," said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., author of the so-called economic Charter change resolution.

Under the rules, three-fourths vote of the 290-strong chamber is needed to approve the resolution.

Belmonte's proposal seeks to amend the 1987 Constitution by inserting the phrase "unless otherwise provided by the law" into its economic provisions.

Article 7 of the Constitution prohibits foreign investors to own more than 40 percent of real properties and businesses, while they are totally restricted to exploit natural resources and own any company in the media industry.

Belmonte refused to disclose how many lawmakers are opposing the bill, but he said that it was better not to push for a vote for the meantime.

Belmonte said that they will try to pass the resolution in the third session of the 16th Congress, which will open on July 27.

The second regular session of the 16th Congress adjourned Wednesday.

Gonzales had said that even if the bill is approved in the Senate and later in the plebiscite, it will not automatically lift the 40-percent restriction on foreign ownership of public utilities and land since it would still need an enabling law to be passed by the Congress later.

"Even on the assumption that the House and the Senate approve it on third reading, we won’t automatically allow the foreigners to own public utilities and land. The 40-percent restriction will continue, unless Congress will pass a law that will change the restriction," he said.

The Joint Foreign Chamber of Commerce and Philippine business groups already expressed support for the passage of the economic charter change. (Sunnex)