Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez emphasized the need for continuity of the Duterte administration’s economic reforms and programs to sustain growth of the domestic economy.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez

As one of the economic managers of the Duterte administration, Lopez said that continuity of economic reforms and programs of the current administration should be a priority in the next set of leaders, who will be elected during the May 2022 elections.

“It is important that there is continuity of President Duterte’s programs and economic reforms,” said Lopez.

Lopez specifically cited economic reforms that would further open the domestic industries to foreign equity participation. He noted that some economic reforms are still pending in Congress, including the amendments to Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), Public Services Act (PSA), and Foreign Investments Act (FIA). The Lower House already passed all three reforms in 2019 and 2020.

A bicameral conference committee is expected to decide soon on the final provisions of the RTLA amendments to encourage more foreign investment in retail trade. Meanwhile, the PSA and FIA amendment bills are pending finalapproval in the Senate, where they are expected to be decided when session resumes.

All three measures will relax foreign direct investment restrictions and together could result in many billions of new investments in future years, creating more jobs, diversifying the economy, bringing new technology, and increasing competition, and providing better services to the benefit of Filipino consumers.

Article 12 Section 11 of the Constitution contains the restriction that public utilities must be 60 percent Filipino-owned. For the first time in 86 years the PSA amendment bill provides a legal definition of a public utility in order to differentiate such from the numerous public services listed in the 1936 Public Service Act. These four natural monopolies are electricity distribution and transmission, water distribution, and sewerage pipeline systems. All other public services would be open to foreign ownership up to 100 percent.

In addition, Lopez cited the need to pursue the Build Build Build program of the Duterte administration. The flagship infrastructure projects that were completed or still being completed under the current administration were started from the late President Benigno Simeon Aquino III administration and even before him.

In addition, Lopez cited the need to pursue the anti-corruption efforts of the Duterte administration.

According to Lopez, overseas Filipino workers are grateful having been reassured of the safety of their loved ones at home because of the peace and order campaign of the president, particularly the government’s anti-drug campaign.