A Mindanao solon is pursuing amendments to Republic Act (RA) No.4566 or the Contractors’ License Law to protect the interests of Filipino contractors when going head to head against foreign contractors.
Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario filed House Bill (HB) No.7816 which seeks to amend Sections 19 and 20 of RA No.4566 to impose qualifications on foreigners participating in construction activities in the Philippines.
“The local contractor stakeholders shall be given the priority in construction activities in the Philippines,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.
Almario said the Supreme Court ruled last August that the Contractors’ License Law does not explicitly prohibit foreign firms from participating in local government contracts to implement local projects.
The ruling struck down Section 3.1 of the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations for disallowing foreign firms. This means that foreign contractors can apply for regular contractors’ licenses, thereby putting them on equal footing with their Filipino counterparts.
Almario said that foreign firms doing local projects will most likely bring into the country construction materials, equipment, and laborers, circumventing existing laws.
“Worst is that the undue advantage given to foreign contractors will inevitably result in the transfer of wealth from the Philippines to their mother countries, causing imbalance of capital and trade,” he added.
Under the Almario measure, a foreign contractor may be allowed to do a local project if the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) and the implementing government agency jointly certify that no local contractor is capable of doing the project, especially those of highly-technical nature like underwater subways and long stretches of tunnels. Moreover, a license granted to a foreign firm must be on a per-project basis only.
“To fully protect the interests of the Philippines and her people, the Filipino contractor must be given priority in local construction activities to develop his own native land, and only if he cannot do it will a foreign contractor be allowed,” the lawmaker stressed.
Almario filed the measure amid the Duterte administration’s ‘’Build, Build, Build’’ program, which is expected to not only improve the current state of Philippine infrastructure, but also generate income for local contractors.