Cagayan de Oro Lawmaker Challenges University Economists on Foreign Ownership Restrictions

CAGAYAN DE ORO – A prominent House leader has publicly disagreed with economists from the University of the Philippines School of Economics regarding constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership, which he identifies as a major barrier to foreign investment in the Philippines.

According to Philippines News Agency, chair of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, the current limitations on foreign equity within the Philippine Constitution are key deterrents for foreign businesses considering investments in the country. His comments were in response to a position paper from UPSE professors, who argued that removing these restrictions might increase uncertainty for investors due to potential legislative changes. The professors urged lawmakers to focus instead on improving infrastructure, connectivity, addressing corruption, and enforcing the rule of law to attract foreign direct investments.

Rodriguez countered that addressing economic restrictions and other investment factors are not conflicting goals and should be pursued simultaneously. He criticized the UP economists for their stance against constitutional economic amendments, labeling them as obstructive to development and employment. In contrast, Rodriguez highlighted support from the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), which includes notable former economic leaders like Gary Teves, Gerardo Sicat, and Felipe Medalla. They support amending the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to enhance legislative flexibility and attract more foreign investments, which they believe would lead to job creation and economic growth.

The FEF responded to the UP economists by stating that amending restrictive economic provisions would clarify uncertainties for investors caused by the current constitutional contradictions and legislative efforts to address them. They also noted the risk of enacted laws being challenged as unconstitutional, referencing ongoing Supreme Court cases regarding the Public Service Act, which affect the telecommunication and transportation sectors' policy environment.

The House recently passed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 7, aiming to amend economic constitutional provisions regarding public utilities, education, and advertising, which includes legislative measures to potentially relax these restrictions. The Senate is set to resume discussions on the corresponding RBH 6 when Congress reconvenes on April 29.