‘Lifting Charter foreign equity cap to end 37-year poverty problem’


SEN. Robin Padilla on Thursday pressed new for lifting restrictive constitutional limits on foreign investments, stressing it is high time to “start ending 37 years of poverty” by easing such caps.

Addressing the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes’ hearing on amending the Charter’s economic provisions in Davao City, Padilla struck an upbeat note that “our country is blessed with enough natural resources and many young people and skilled workers that can contribute greatly to our progress.”

However, he hastily reminded that “we need huge investments to harness these assets properly and we cannot do this because of the limitations of our Constitution.”

At his first out-of-town hearing on the Charter change he has been pushing, Padilla asked aloud, “When will we start moving? When? When?” He explained that, “this hearing aims to benefit ordinary Filipinos and make sure our Constitution’s economic provisions benefit them and not just 20 percent of the population.”

At the same time, the senator said that easing the Charter’s economic provisions is “the only solution” he sees to attract foreign direct investments, reminding one and all that “the Philippines has been “kulelat” [cellar dweller] in terms of FDI.  He cited Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas [BSP] figures showing FDI in the Philippines dropped by 25 percent from 2018 to 2020.

Padilla underscored that as the country recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, “it needs new drivers of growth” including opening the economy to foreign direct investments (FDIs).

Stressing that “there is basis for seeking such amendments; [and] this is not political grandstanding,” the senator asserted that “this is addressing a real need of our country by amending our Constitution’s economic provisions.”

Moreover, Padilla affirmed that “we are moving to prioritize amending our economic provisions because this will help address the most pressing needs such as joblessness, hunger and poverty.”

Earlier, he asked peers in the House of Representatives, where the so-called “Cha-cha train” has been moving faster, to avoid by all means including political provisions of the Charter in any revision process, saying the economic amendments are a life-saving move that cannot afford to be derailed by political complications.

In earlier hearings, resource persons have made a case for easing the foreign equity cap, which they said is still necessary even though the 18th Congress had passed the trio of so-called liberalization laws. Critics of Charter change, however, have disputed the indispensability of Charter change to getting FDIs.