The Inter-Agency Task Force CORE (Constitutional Reform) has joined hands with the Department of Finance (DOF) in calling for the removal of economic restrictions in the Constitution including the ban on foreign investments in some industries.
The Task Force is, nonetheless, still for the retention of 100% of land ownership to Filipino citizens only, finance expert and Task Force CORE member Gary Olivar said yesterday.
Speaking at the CORE (Constitutional Reform) Press Conference at the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG) in Quezon City yesterday, Olivar noted that relaxing the restrictions on foreign investment in the country is part of President Rodrigo Duterte's 10-point agenda for governance upon assuming the presidency in 2016.
He pointed out that the President sought this strategy as a means of attracting more foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the country as the Philippines has had the lowest record among Southeast Asian countries in FDI entry.
“Over the last 10 years, infrastructure (development) is also the poorest record in the Philippines compared to the six (6) major ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as of 2015. (With regards to) economic growth, we have been left behind by our neighbors, we are now number 63 in a survey taken in 185 countries a few years ago. And because of all of these, this policy (of restrictions in foreign investments), poverty is still rampant, we are the only country in ASEAN that has failed to cut this poverty by half in the last 25 years," said Olivar, who spoke on behalf of the Economic Cluster of Task Force CORE chaired by DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.
The Task Force had been tasked to study and conduct a national consultation process on his constitutional reform agenda, and the DILG has tapped academic, economic, political and social experts to study and craft the changes in the Constitution needed to carry out President Duterte's reform agenda.
Earlier, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the lifting of those restrictions on foreign investments is among the constitutional reforms recommended by the DILG to the House of Representatives last week.
Malaya noted that the Task Force recommended amendments to the Constitution included the proposed political and electoral reforms needed to curve and stop vote-buying, election cheating and party-switching before and after every election.
Olivar said that in the case of the proposed economic reforms, the two chambers of Congress may be inclined to remedy the situation by simply inserting the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in the current provisions of the 1987 Constitution that imposes the rigid restriction on foreign investments in the country.
Olivar said, "they (DOF) would like to go a little further, totally eliminate all references to citizenship restrictions with respect to industries like mass media and advertising, education institutions, the practice of professions, natural resources, mineral wealth, and public utilities where we find 60-40 restrictions."
"This is the only way forward to open our economy and bring in foreign investments that will then create the jobs and technology that we need to continue moving forward even after this President," Olivar ended.
The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has started tackling proposed amendments to the political and economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution in line with calls to review the country’s social and governance system.