DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 May) – Presumptive president Rodrigo R. Duterte is planning to initiate major changes in the economic provisions of the Constitution, including those on foreign business ownership, to attract more investors.
In a press conference Tuesday, Peter T. Laviña, spokesperson of Duterte, said such changes must be undertaken to align the country’s policies with developments in the ASEAN community.
“There will be an initial jittery effect in the market but I think from the start of a new administration, the mayor would be very firm in making sure that the business environment would be friendly. There will be a little lull when we undertake this constitutional process,” he said.
He emphasized the incoming administration will continue the gains of the President Benigno S. Aquino III, whose leadership resulted in the economic boom that earned the country favorable credit ratings.
“But investors would be welcoming such changes because this is for the better. This is not a retrogression that we will withdraw anything that is necessary to move our country forward,” he said.
“He (Duterte) will copy and continue programs that are rebounding to the good of the people. We will review the programs and certainly replace those that don’t work,” he added.
Laviña said one such policy that Duterte might consider reviewing is the 60-40 rule on foreign business ownership in the Philippines.
At present, the country limits the foreign ownership of businesses to 40 percent and 60 percent to Filipinos under Republic Act 7042, also known as the Foreign Investments Act of 1991.
Duterte told reporters Monday evening that he can allow a 60-40 arrangement in favor of foreigners, or even 100-percent ownership of a business.
He said what he cannot allow is the selling of lands to foreigners, as the country’s land is “sacred”.
“I will now agree to selling a piece of our properties. Hangang dyan lang but not selling of properties. China has blossomed without selling a piece of their soil. Why should I? My country is sacred,” he said.
“We are poor and if you allow the selling of lands, everybody who has one hectare will sell it. And we will find ourselves and our children in the foreign land,” he said.
He said the country is not “in the position of strength at this time” to reclaim, if ever, what would be sold to the foreigners.
On the Philippine stock market, Duterte, who admitted he has no background in economics, said he was more concerned about the inflow of hard investments.
“I can’t talk about economics or what the Makati Business Club wanted me to discuss. Hindi ako Wharton (graduate). I told you I’m a mayor and a prosecutor. I do not really care about the stock market, pera lang yan naglalaro, what I want is hard investment. If that is the Makati concept of getting the country into prosperity, you’re silly,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)