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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

13 January 2021 03:11:43 PM

Three professors emeritus from the University of the Philippines School of Economics (UPSE) on Wednesday expressed support for efforts of the House of Representatives (HoR) to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution in order to make the Philippines more appealing to investors and help it accelerate economic recovery.

The UP School of Economics professors––Professors Emeritus Dr. Raul Fabella, Dr. Ernesto Pernia and Dr. Gerardo Sicat––invited as resource persons in the resumption of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments on the Resolution of Both Houses Proposing Amendments to Certain Economic Provisions of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Particularly on Articles XII, XIV, and XVI No. 2 (RBH No. 2), touted the benefits of amending the Constitution’s economic provisions and said these were timely given the need to speed up the recovery of the country’s pandemic-hit economy.

According to Pernia, changing the economic provisions of the Charter is timely “because as you can see, although the economy has really been clobbered by the pandemic, the economy is recovering slowly––it is getting out of the hole little by little––and we need to accelerate that getting out of the hole.”

“We really need to push that, including allowing FDI (foreign direct investments) in the country, so this recovery will accelerate,” said the former director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, who lamented that the Philippine economy has slowly been overtaken by other ASEAN economies.

Pernia pointed out that because the country has been so closed in terms of FDI, “we really cannot be competitive with our ASEAN neighbors, much less in the global economy, if we do not open the economy; that is why easing or lifting the provisions on foreign participation in the constitution is critical.”

Sicat, the founder of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), echoed the sentiments of Pernia and explained that he considered the current economic provisions of the Constitution “the original sin” responsible for making it “really difficult for our country to progress in the attraction of foreign director investments.”

The first director general appointed to head the NEDA, Sicat urged legislators to read his column, which he said enumerates the benefits of amending the economic provisions of the Constitution.

In his column, “Now is the time to amend the restrictive’ economic provisions in the Constitution,” Sicat said that amending the Charter, together with complementary and wise economic policies, would lead to the following outcomes: (1) sustained and a higher level of per capita GDP growth; (2) higher level of employment for Filipino workers; (3) improved overall level of productivity for the Filipino worker; (4) better nutrition of our worker’s children and capability to support their schooling; (5) enhanced capacity of workers to finance family housing and other needs; (6) the improved capacity for the state, through an upgrade of its finances, to undertake programs to ameliorate the conditions of those in poverty; and (7) a rising standard of living for all Filipinos.

Fabella, the only Filipino economist recognized as a National Scientist, told members of the committee that he agreed with his colleagues from the UPSE, as well as the view expressed in Resolution of Both Houses No. 2, “that the lifting of the constitutional limit on foreign ownership will make the Philippines more foreign investment-friendly.”

The Yale University product also said that he favored the lifting of restrictions on the foreign ownership of land and argued that land should be owned by whoever can make it more productive, regardless of citizenship.

“My belief,” said Fabella, “is that who can make the land flower best should own it; the land should be able to produce as much as it can.. and citizenship is not a condition for who makes flower the best.” #