President Duterte has signed into law the measure amending the Public Service Act (PSA), saying this will help the economy recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Duterte made this announcement during the ceremonial signing of the law and the presentation of other newly signed measures in Malacañang on Monday, March 21.
In his speech, the President thanked Congress for the "timely ratification of the amendment of the Public Service Act" as it aids in leading the country to economic recovery from the ongoing public health crisis.
The amendments aim to encourage investment in sectors essential to public welfare, effectively opening up to 100 percent the foreign equity across economic sectors.
The amendments now classify the following services as a public utility, subject to the 40-percent foreign ownership cap under the Constitution:
- Distribution of electricity
- Transmission of electricity
- Petroleum and petroleum products pipeline transmission systems
- Water pipeline distribution systems and wastewater pipeline systems, including sewerage pipeline systems
- Public utility vehicles
"Indeed, the enactment of this amended law shall help stimulate the economy," Duterte said.
Aside from the ceremonial signing of the amended PSA, the following newly signed republic acts (RAs) were also presented:
- Amendments to the Foreign Investment Act (RA 11647)
- Increasing the Age for Determining the Commission of Statutory Rape (RA 11648)
- Instituting Policy and Services for Learners with Disabilities in Support of Inclusive Education Act (RA 11650)
The amended Foreign Investment Act aims to make the Philippines more accessible to more investors, consequently generating employment opportunities and facilitating the transfer of technologies and expertise for more quality of goods and services by excluding the practice of professions from the coverage of the Foreign Investment Act.
RA 11648 fortifies existing laws on rape, sexual exploitation, and abuse. It strengthens the protection of children against such acts by increasing the age of determining the commission of statutory rate and providing higher penalties for violation of the law.
However, President Duterte thought that while this law is helpful, it would be challenging to implement because of the "boy-girl dynamic."
"It's good that we have raised to 16. Biologically, I think, maybe, but the dynamics would come in kung maaga ang premature sexuality sa mga bata (if the premature sexuality of the children would kick in early)," he said.
Meanwhile, RA 11650 establishes inclusive learning centers in all school districts to provide learners with disabilities with free and appropriate public education and related services according to their needs to develop their full potential as self-sufficient participative members of society.
"The administration hopes that these laws would aid in the country's development, benefiting both the present and future generations," President Duterte said.