Pangilinan pushes for Charter change

by Warren de Guzman, ANC

Posted at Jan 17 2013 02:44 PM | Updated as of Jan 18 2013 03:19 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Government needs to change the Constitution. That looked like the hidden message of the panel at the "2013 Prospects for the Philippines" conference, which included businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan and former Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. 

Pangilinan says the country's foreign ownership rules need to be updated if government really wants to attract more foreign direct investment. 

He also says changing the rules on land ownership would also help the struggling agriculture sector.

"You can't even borrow using agricultural land. It's so difficult to change ownership," Pangilinan said. 

Pangilinan though welcomed the recent indication of more liberal foreign ownership limitation rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

However, he says a foreign investor would be much more committed to the success of a project in the Philippines if he or she had a larger stake in it than currently allowed.

Another issue concerning Charter change is the peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the MILF, says they are in disagreement with the government on whether or not the Constitution needs to be changed, for their peace deal to work. 

"MILF believes Cha-Cha is needed, government says no. But we have much more to discuss apart from that. We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Iqbal said. 

Diokno says President Aquino has enough influence right now to pull off charter change but it doesn't seem likely that it will happen during his term.

"I believe he is attached to his mother's Constitution," Diokno said.