The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) yesterday expressed caution over the timing and manner by which Congress is proposing the amendment to the Constitution albeit on its economic provisions and urged legislators to prioritize bills that would help the country’s recovery.
PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico in a statement said government should focus on economic recovery and building resilience against natural and man-made disasters.
“PCCI supports initiatives to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution to enhance the country’s competitive position globally, encourage more foreign direct investments and address monopolistic, uncompetitive behaviors and under-investments in some sectors critical to public interest but this should be done in a deliberate and careful manner that will continue to make the Constitution withstand various economic interests but especially the test of time,” Yujuico said.
Yujuico said while it may be the fastest option, inserting the provision “unless otherwise provided by law” in sections of the Constitution that limit foreign equity to 40 percent in business ventures that are considered of critical interest to the Filipino people, “could potentially weaken the country’s highest law by making it easier for ordinary legislation to amend the Constitution.”
Bills being pushed by PCCI include the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which is one step away from being enacted into law, and the Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act.
PCCI also said there are other bills pending in Congress that will open certain doors to the economy that the Constitution has kept locked against the entry of foreign investors.
Among these is the Public Service Act Amendment, which has been approved by the House of Representatives and is pending at the Senate Committee on Public Services. The bill lifts limitations on foreign equity ownership on some sectors currently classified as public utility.
These include telecommunications and transport. It limits public utility to three sectors: distribution of electricity; transmission of electricity and water pipeline distribution system or sewerage pipeline. PCCI is hoping the for the bill to be enacted before the end of the 18th Congress.