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To encourage FDIs, the House is examining the Constitution, says Romualdez

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On Wednesday, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez stated that the need to promote investments that would further stimulate economic activity, create job opportunities, reduce poverty, and lower prices for goods and services is now more central to congressional discussions on the proposed constitutional amendments.

“There are still unanswered questions in our thoughts 36 years after the approval of the 1987 Constitution. We are still thinking as we assemble here today. Is the Constitution still as applicable to our people as they intended? Is it still representative of Filipinos’ goals and ideals? Does it still represent the ambition of every Filipino family, Nilalaman Pa Riba Nito (Does it still embody that)? Romualdez made this statement in a speech he gave at Malacaan Palace on Philippine Constitution Day.

According to him and other House members, their inboxes are already overflowing with demands from constituents urging a review of specific 1987 Constitutional clauses.

The Speaker, who also serves as president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), stated: “That is the reason why a number of congressmen have filed several bills proposing amendments to the Constitution for various reasons, ranging from lifting economic restrictions to structural reforms.”

“Debating the legislative proposals submitted, including the direct petition from the people which takes precedence in this discussion, is the mandate and the duty of the members of the House of Representatives,” Romualdez stated.

He mentioned that the 36-year-old Constitution is the subject of public hearings and consultations being held by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.

The committee headed by Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Representative Rufus Rodriguez has scheduled public consultations in different areas of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in addition to hearings at the Batasan complex in Quezon City.

The key to addressing the goals and ideals of Filipinos in the present, according to the proponents, is to open the economy to the inflow of foreign cash, Romualdez claimed.

He emphasized the importance of foreign direct investments (FDIs) by quoting statistics and case studies from other nations that were taken from the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department publications that demonstrate how FDIs promote economic growth.

He said that FDIs, rather than remittances, private loans and portfolio equity, or official development assistance, are the main source of foreign financing in poor nations based on data from the United Nations.

“More FDI inflows can reduce capital limitations, boost economic growth, and create jobs. “A preponderance of studies show that FDI triggers technology spillovers, aids human capital formation, contributes to international trade integration, helps create a more competitive business environment, and enhances enterprise development, given the proper host-country policies and a basic level of development,” he said.

He continued, “All of them contribute to greater economic growth, which is the most effective means of reducing poverty in emerging nations.

Romualdez bemoaned the fact that the nation has not been receiving as many FDIs as its neighbors.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) foreign direct investment regulatory restrictiveness rating, the Philippines was the third-most restrictive nation out of 84 in 2020. (FDI Index).

“In the Philippines, there are four main categories of barriers to foreign direct investment (FDI): foreign equity limitations; discriminatory screening or approval mechanisms; restrictions on hiring foreigners as key personnel; and other operational restrictions, such as limitations on branching, capital repatriation, or land ownership by foreign-owned enterprises, the official said.

According to him, there are a variety of investment limitations on foreign ownership, from a minimum need of 60% Filipino ownership to complete prohibition.

The Constitution, he continued, forbids foreign ownership of the media, permits only 30% foreign capital in advertising agencies, and permits 40% foreign capital in educational institutions.

He noted that “foreign ownership limitations in the education sector precluded the Philippines from hosting top-tier colleges looking to build a foothold in Asia.”

While the nation has been addressing foreign ownership restrictions that have limited investment in many sectors through laws like the Public Services Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the Foreign Investment Act, he emphasized that “fundamental investment restrictions enshrined in the Constitution could not be corrected by simple legislations nor by executive decisions.”

“The desire of every Filipino family now is a peaceful community with high-paying jobs, cheaper prices, and a chance for a better life,” he added. “Ang pangarap ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino sa ngayon: isang mapayapang komunidad na may trabaho, mataas na sahod, murang bilihin, at pag

“We are frequently questioned, “After you have made so much work and gains in opening up the Philippine economy, the last missing piece of the puzzle remains, how about your restricted Constitution,” when the President travels as the top salesman of the nation. To address this matter and issue that is on our thoughts right now and may genuinely raise Filipinos’ ambitions for the future, Congress is doing so “said Romualdez.

Romualdez expressed his gratitude to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for allowing Philconsa to host its 36th annual Constitution Day celebration at the Palace and for inviting him to speak at the event as its guest of honor.

As “the vanguard that not only advocates vigilance in maintaining and defending the Philippine Constitution but also in supporting its growth as a vital and relevant document for the Filipino nation,” he also extended his gratitude to Philconsa.

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