MANILA – The provisions of the Constitution on foreign ownership should remain because amending it may lead to the Philippines being a “colony” of foreign investors, a former chief justice said Monday.
The Philippines has “one-fifth of the richest natural resources” and it was “designed that it should only be for Filipinos,” said Hilario Davide Jr., a member of the commission that crafted the 1987 charter.
“If you remove the Filipino citizenship requirement in the exploitation of natural resources, on the acquisition of public lands, or even in mass media, in education, you remove the solemnity of nationalism,” he told ANC’s Headstart.
Davide said lawmakers should be guaranteed to be incorruptible because Congress can be prevailed upon by foreign interests in order to favor exploitation of the country’s natural resources.
“One country may have businessmen so strong because they have the money. If you are in Congress, there might be a temptation to agree to certain propositions, to reduce the limit, for instance, of Filipino participation and increase the participation of foreigners,” he said.
“In the end, we will become a colony of businessmen of other countries,” he added.
Davide said the 60-40 foreign equity ratio should stay also because the Philippine population is growing annually and they should have food security.
“What will you feed the people afterwards if all our assets here, natural assets, would be [granted] to foreign investors?…Congress should stick to it [60-40] and fully implement the same,” he said.
The Constitution restricts ownership of certain areas of investments to firms with at least 60-percent Filipino capital.
The restriction also covers exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources through co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations.
BIG BIZ WANTS MORE FOREIGN CAPITAL
Several big business groups are backing moves in Congress to lift the equity restrictions on foreign capital.
In a recent joint statement, the Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines and the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines expressed their “strong support” to doing away with the economic restrictions in the 1987 Constitution.
“Increasing the participation of foreigners in our economy would be a welcome development as it would mean a fresh infusion of financial resources for our undercapitalized sectors, the introduction of new technologies to spur greater innovation and efficiency in our industries, and the promotion of healthy competition that will drive businesses to operate more efficiently, leading to better quality and more competitively priced products and services for the people,” the groups said.
“We wish to state our strong support for Resolution of Both Houses 2 (RBH2) Proposing Amendments to certain Economic Provisions of the 1987 Constitution particularly to Articles XII, XIV and XVI, principally authored by House of Representative Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. The resolution seeks to include the phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ in some sections of Articles XII (national economy and patrimony), XIV (education, science and technology, arts, culture and sports), and XVI (general provisions). The proposal is aligned with the Duterte Administration’s push to lift the economic restrictions in the Constitution, in order to open more business areas to foreign investors,” the groups added.