FEF supports changes in economic provisions of Constitution but …

The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) has expressed support for an initiative to hold hearings on Constitutional Amendments with the objective of amending the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution.

But FEF also equally stressed the need to introduce the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” as called for by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s Joint Resolution No. 2.

FEF, which is chaired by former Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo, said the phrase should apply to the Constitution’s paragraph 1, Section 2 of Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), which provides for the exploitation of natural resources only to corporations whose capital is owned sixty percent by citizens.

 Likewise, the phrase should apply on paragraph 1, Section 3 of Article XII (National Economy and Patrimony), which states that private corporations or associations may not hold alienable lands of the public domain except for lease for not more than twenty-five years and not to exceed one thousand hectares in area.

Other provisions include Section 7 of Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy), providing no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands in the public domain, and Section 10 of Article XII (National Patrimony and Economy) providing that certain areas of investments be reserved for companies whose capital is owned by 60 percent of citizens.

Operation and management of public utilities be reserved for corporations whose capital is owned by citizens, must also be covered by such clause.

Also covered is paragraph 1, No. 2, Section 4 of Article XIV (Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports), which provides that educational institutions shall be solely owned by citizens of the Philippines or corporations or associations whose capital is owned by at least sixty percent of citizens.

 FEF would also the same conditionality to apply on paragraph 1, No. 1, Section 11 of Article XVI (General Provisions), which provides that ownership of mass media be wholly owned by citizens or to corporations or associations wholly owned by citizens.

FEF also included Paragraph 2, No. 2., Section 11 of Article XVI (General Provisions), which requires that advertising firms must be at least 70 percent owned by Filipinos. Participation of foreign investors in the governing body of entities in the advertising industry shall be limited to their proportionate share in the capital and all the executive and managing officers of such entities must be citizens of the Philippines.

“The introduction of the phrase ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ in those restrictive provisions will give Congress the flexibility and leeway to amend those provisions to conform with present economic and technological conditions,” the FEF said.

“These Constitutional amendments will improve the investment climate and generate much

needed investments and jobs to counteract the economic contraction caused by the pandemic. With

consumption falling because of mobility restrictions and higher unemployment, it is more important

than ever for the Philippines to transition from consumption-led growth to investment-led growth.

Enabling Congress to amend the restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution will send a positive

signal to investors and fuel the economy’s transition to an investment-led growth.”

In addition, the FEF, which is composed of economists and former economic officials of the Philippine government cautioned that amendments to the Constitution be confined to the economic provisions only to lessen the risk of political controversy and division that could derail the speedy

passage of these much-needed amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution.