Opening PH economy to foreigners could be ‘dangerous’ prof, lawmakers warn
MANILA, Philippines — Amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to allow foreign use of natural resources and ownership of educational institutions and mass media, among others, could be “dangerous” amid the present global landscape, a professor and some lawmakers warned Wednesday.
The House committee on constitutional amendments started today its consideration of four measures seeking to amend economic provisions of the Charter and lift restrictions on foreign ownership of the country’s public domain like natural resources.
But Professor Antonio La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, warns against these proposals.
“I travel all over the world… meet with high-level people, something is happening in the world… there’s a nationalist push back, not necessarily good by the way…” La Viña told the panel. “If we do this now or in the next two to three years we’d unilaterally surrender our weapons against that nationalist push back.”
“It’s very very dangerous. I say that with a very strong sense of urgency,” he added.
Cristina Exmundo, a specialist from the National Security Council, also cautioned lawmakers from relaxing the country’s restrictions on foreign investments.
“We have to be cautious [if] we’re looking at the national security interests of the country, especially if we’re looking at the integrations five or 10 years down the road if we just open up our natural resources,” Exmundo said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Quezon City 6th District Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte also both agreed that the public should be genuinely protected from the consequences of liberalizing the economy.
Meanwhile, Philippine Competition Commissioner Johannes Bernabe and American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. Senior Advisor John Forbes backed amendments to the protectionist provisions of the Charter. Forbes said government should not fear foreign investments as long as strong regulations are in place.
Gary Olivar of the Foundation for Economic Freedom for his part said investment restrictions “constraints [economic] growth that results in lower investment, fewer jobs, poor infrastructure, and non-inclusive development.” Protectionist provisions that limit foreign ownership “do not promote healthy competition in a dynamic global economy,” he added.
Seeking to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution are House Concurrent Resolution 1 by Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, House Joint Resolution 4 by Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Resolution of Both Houses 2 by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and Resolution of Both Houses 3 by Aklan 2nd District Rep. Teodorico Haresco Jr. /muf
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