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Drilon: Amended Public Service Act to aid next admin’s economic recovery

/ 05:37 PM March 22, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s economic recovery will get a big boost after a law amending the Public Service Act was signed, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11659, which amends the 86-year-old Public Service Act, which would help the next administration lead in economic recovery.

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“I laud the timely passage of the Amended Public Service Act. By opening up our public services to competition, this will compel the current players to shape up and boost our foreign direct investments, and provide our people with better choices,” Drilon, the principal author of the newly-signed law, said in a statement.

“I am proud of shepherding its passage in the Senate both as a principal author and as a co-sponsor together with Senator Grace Poe. I am happy that after years of efforts, we now have an amended Public Service Act that is truly reflective of the present needs of our country and our people,” he continued.

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Drilon said that the amended Public Service Act clarifies the concept of public utilities, pointing out that the interchangeable use of “public utility” and “public service” has effectively banned foreign participation in the market.

According to Drilon, the term “public utility” is limited to these services: distribution of electricity, transmission of electricity, petroleum and petroleum products pipeline transmission systems, water pipeline distribution systems, and wastewater pipeline systems, including sewerage pipeline systems, seaports, and public utility vehicles.

Under Section 11, Article 12 of the Constitution, foreign ownership of these public utilities will be limited to a maximum of 40 percent. All other “public services” will no longer be subject to foreign ownership limitations due to the passage of this law, explained Drilon.

Drilon emphasized that R.A. 11659 does not translate to the deregulation of public services, stating that all public services, including public utilities, are still governed by existing regulations.

The senator believed that the Philippines is better positioned to discuss the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic with the amended Public Service Act, the amended Retail Trade Law, and the revised Corporation Code that he authored.

“These laws will stimulate the economy, promote competition in business, enhance the ease of doing business, and generate more jobs,” Drilon noted.

While foreign direct investments (FDIs) have increased in the past months, Drilon pointed out that the country remains one of the least attractive to foreign investors.

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According to Drilon, the Philippines was ranked second to last across 14 Asia-Pacific economies in terms of attractiveness to foreign direct investment in October 2021 by Oxford Economics. — Jericho Zafra, INQUIRER.net intern

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TAGS: Amended Public Service Act, Franklin Drilon, Republic Act 11659
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