Members of the House of Representatives’ minority bloc are not exactly united behind the moves to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo, an economist, said the restrictive economic policies of the Constitution in a number of industries where foreigners can only take up a maximum of 40-percent interest, is one of the reasons why many foreign businessmen do not invest in the country.
Among the industries Quimbo identified are media, education, legal services and telecommunications.
“Dahil sa dami ng bawal sa nag-iinvest na dayuhan, naging number one ang Pilipinas sa Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) sa pagiging restrictive ng ekonomiya (Because of the restrictions on foreign investments, the Philippines is number one restrictive economy in Asean),” Quimbo said.
“Simple lang po, ‘pag hindi bukas ang ekonomiya, ‘di tayo pupuntahan ng foreign investors. Syempre ayaw nila sa mahirap mag-negosyo. Ang ending? Goodbye, foreign investments (The simple argument is if the Philippine economy is not open, foreign investors will not invest here. Of course, they don’t want difficulty in investing here. The end result is goodbye, foreign investments),” she added.
Quimbo said that with more foreign investments entering the country, there would be improvement in market competition, technology and employment in the country.
But Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas opposed the timing of her colleagues in pushing for amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution, as the Philippine economy is still recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sa halip na sumayaw tayo sa salit ng Cha-cha at umasa sa dayuhan, kailangan nating tumindig sa sarili nating paa lalo na’t humaharap tayo sa pandemya (Instead of us dancing to the beat of Charter change and relying on foreigners, we should learn how to stand on our own feet especially during this pandemic),” Brosas said.
She added that other countries are even returning to a more restrictive or protectionist economic environment.
“We need to break free from the false notion that attracting foreign investments will ensure job generation and economic growth amid the raging pandemic,” Brosas said.
Ang Magsasaka Partylist Rep. Argel Cabatbat also said that while more foreign investments could be beneficial for the Philippines, the country’s agricultural lands should not be sold to foreign nationals.
“Unang-una, ang dami pa nating magsasaka na walang lupa, tapos hahayaan natin na ‘yung maraming pera ang bumili nito? (Firstly, many of our farmers do not have lands, then we will let those with so much money to buy our agricultural lands),” Cabatbat said.