Civil Society for Constitutional Reforms (2)

Manila Bulletin, June 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Civil Society for Constitutional Reforms (2)


By Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas

Tandem, a part of civil society organized by concerned citizens to promote inclusive growth through political reforms, has proposed to amend the Philippine Constitution of l987 by removing the restrictions, limitations, and prohibitions against foreign direct investments. After consulting a group of experts over a period of six months, the members of TanDem summarized the major reasons for their proposed amendments, enumerate their major arguments.

The Philippines has embraced massive poverty since the birth of the republic until today. Out of the present estimated 104-million population, where some 65 million are in the labor force, about 4 million are unemployed while 12 million are underemployed. To address massive poverty, it is necessary to raise equally massive capital to create or support sustainable jobs. It costs about R100,000 to employ a single employee for one full year, based on the lowest minimum wage and cost of business operations. It would, therefore, cost at least a staggering R400 billion to employ all the unemployed for just one year.

Unfortunately, instead of making use of all available capital resources, whether local or foreign, for job generation, the 1987 Constitution--together with numerous congressional statutes and implementing rules and regulations--have instead chosen to restrict foreign direct investments in several sectors of the economy, to protect the monetary interests of Filipino business people belonging to the "mayaman" class, at the expense of Filipino workers and consumers of the middle and the "masa" classes, who are then systematically deprived of better job opportunities and cheaper goods and services. These restrictions curtail the fundamental right to employment, which is the most important labor right that gives life to all other labor rights, such as those providing for the minimum wage, working conditions, social security, security of tenure, and self-organization. Without the actual jobs, all other rights under the labor laws and social legislation mean nothing to the workers.

About 10.2 million Filipinos live overseas of which some 2.4 million are overseas Filipino workers. Common sense tells us that it is better to allow foreign investors to move into the country and hire Filipinos locally, rather than force Filipinos to move overseas, many of whom leave their families behind, and then work for foreign employers in a foreign land under a foreign government. The liberalization of foreign investments, to complement local investments, reasonably leads to job creation (by establishing new business enterprises or expanding existing business enterprises); consumer price reduction (by increasing the supply of goods and services); technology transfer (by adopting and improving foreign technology); access to foreign markets (by tapping foreign investors to sell Philippine goods and services in their homelands); and anti-corruption (by allowing the entry of independent foreign competitors that can counteract the monopoly power of existing Filipino cartels of government suppliers. …

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