Send OFWs back home, amend the 1987 Constitution – Quimbo

Published February 28, 2021, 2:42 PM

by Ben Rosario

Filipinos abroad will be going back to the Philippines as soon as restrictive economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution are amended and foreign investors start pouring capital to the country.

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo made this prediction as part of her sponsorship speech for Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH2) that proposes to lift provisions of the Charter that have blocked any bid by foreigners to invest in the country.

Quimbo called on her Lower House colleagues to support the legislative measure as she underscored the significance of opening up the economy to foreign investors.

“Bakit natin kailangan buksan ang ekonomiya? Simple lang po: kulang ang kapital ng negosyanteng Pilipino (Why do we need to open up the economy? Simple:  Filipino businessmen do not have enough capital),” said Quimbol, a respected economist and professor of the University of the Philippines School of Economics before joining public service.

  RBH 2 seeks to insert the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to constitutional provisions that restricts the participation of foreigners in various economic activities in the country, particularly ownership of land and business.

Quimbo lamented that current statistics show that there the number of OFWs, estimated at 2.2 million, and that the number is indicative of the fact that job opportunities are lacking in the country because local business do not have enough capital to open more and larger businesses.

According to Quimbo, “when a country’s domestic capital is lacking, we simply need to look for more foreign business partners; unfortunately, our laws are too restrictive to allow the inflow of foreign capital.” The opposition lawmaker pointed out that with the economy contracting by 9.5 percent in 2020––the steepest economic downturn in our post war history––the country cannot afford to lose any more time and “must realize that in order to return to our prior trajectory of growth, we need to put ourselves in a better position to compete for foreign investments, which we are already losing to our neighbors.” 

“If we don’t address this, many more Filipinos will have to leave their families, and look for jobs abroad.”

The lawmaker’s observations are worrisome in light of the findings of the study “COVID-19 Crisis Through A Migration Lens” by the World Bank and the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNO- MAD), which had earlier projected that in 2020, migrant workers remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries like the Philippines could drop by around 20 percent from US$554 billion to US$445 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study observed that “migrant workers tend to be particularly vulnerable, more than native-born workers, to losses of employment and wages during an economic crisis in their host country.”

It added that in countries hosting overseas workers, “the COVID-19 crisis has created additional challenges in sectors that depend on the availability of migrant workers. The crisis has disproportionately impacted food and hospitality, retail and wholesale, tourism and transport, and manufacturing.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the government has brought over 400,000 OFWs home. Last month, in a report to Department of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the total number of repatriates that had returned home stood at 410,211 as of January 16.

 
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