Bayan Muna warns of 'instability' if solons allowed to ease foreign ownership caps

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 18 2019 11:16 AM

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MANILA - Giving Congress the power to ease foreign ownership caps on business will likely result in economic instability, an opposition lawmaker said Wednesday.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate made the remark after a House committee last week approved proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution which included giving lawmakers such authority.

"Magkakaroon ng instability ang ating ekonomiya (There will be instability in the economy) simply because every Congress now will have power to amend what is now stated in our Constitution," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"For every Congress, there’s a possibility the rules of the game will change depending on who is lobbying Congress to pass this particular bill."

Gary Olivar, a member of the Duterte administration’s inter-agency task force on constitutional reform, said the amendment would be needed as the country is "one of the heavily restricted and protectionist economies in the world."

"Because of this it has lagged behind in infrastructure, it has lowest ratio of foreign investment to GDP in the entire ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). As a result of that we are poor, we have failed to cut our poverty in half in the last 25 years," he said.

The country's economy is still liberal even with the present restrictions, said Zarate.

"Protectionist provisions are there kasi may purpose yan (because they have a purpose). Itong (These) protectionist provisions in the long run will help our economy maging (become) stable," he said.

Aside from giving Congress power to relax foreign investment limits, other proposals included tandem voting for the president and vice-president, 5-year terms for senators and congressmen, and election of senators by region.

Zarate said these would only benefit politicians who want to stay in power longer.

Olivar said the reform package includes empowering regions with more resources and wider authority, preventing turncoatism and placing political parties under the scrutiny of the Commission on Audit.

"There’s a lot that’s not palatable in this whole package of reforms…kaya hinihingi natin yan sa'ting mga kababayan…sana po ipaalam natin sa ating mambabatas na we are expecting them to do their duty and do what is best for the country and not only what is best for their political futures," he said.

(There’s a lot that’s not palatable in this whole package of reforms…we are asking the public to let our lawmakers know that we are expecting them to do their duty and do what is best for the country and not only what is best for their political futures.)

Olivar said government's push for federalism was "still alive" and that there's a new draft constitution being considered by the inter-agency to be presented for President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We can only hope titingnan niya ang proposal, pag-aaralan niya (he will study the proposal) then hopefully take action consistent with his campaign promise to push for federalism, constitutional change, and liberalization of the economy," he said.