• Binay favors Charter change

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    Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday said he is in favor of Charter change, or Cha-cha, specially amending the six-year term of the President and economic provisions on foreign ownership of businesses in the country.

    “Sa simula’t simula, hindi ako agree sa term limits. Kung gusto ng taong bayan, e di manilbihan. Dapat ‘yung 1935 Constitution natin ibalik na lang [Since the beginning, I didn’t agree on term limits. If the people like it, then officials should serve longer. The 1935 Constitution should be returned]. Six years is too long for a bad administrator, too short for a good one,” Binay told a media forum at Luneta Hotel in Manila.

    Unlike President Benigno Aquino 3rd who is against Charter change, Binay apparently keeps an open mind on amending the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions.

    The Vice President said 100 percent foreign ownership of industries should be allowed to entice big investments, citing the experience of Thailand, which allowed full foreign ownership in the manufacturing sector.

    “Dapat magkaroon ng safeguard na alisin na yung 60-40 percent ownership [here in the Philippines], kasi sa Thailand ang karanasan nila, nung inalis yung ganyang restriction e dumami yung investors [There should be safeguards. Remove the 60-40 provision on investment. Like Thailand’s experience, that when they removed the restriction, more investors came in],” Binay noted.

    No-no
    But the President has not changed his stand against Cha-cha, even if it is only to amend economic provisions of the Constitution.

    In a press conference, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino does not see the need to ease the restrictive economic provisions.

    “So do we necessarily have to amend the Constitution? Some groups say, ‘yes we have to.’ But the belief of our President and we believe that we can do better the economy—I mean, make it more palatable to, for instance, foreign investment, is to . . . We can do it by making better the mechanisms within what we have right now and going through executive action by way of EO 184,” Lacierda said.

    E0 184, which was issued by Aquino, removed the 49 percent ownership limit in lending companies and 60 percent in financing companies and investment houses regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

    This means foreign investors can now invest more in lending companies, financial companies and investment houses.

    Aquino issued EO 184 promulgating the 10th regular Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL), covers investments areas that are open to foreigners and reserved to Filipinos. The new list replaces the 9th FINL based on EO 98 in 2012.

    From the 2012 list of 26 professions, only pharmacy, radiologic and X-ray technology, criminology, forestry and law are reserved for Filipinos.

    The same EO retained the “no foreign equity” rule in mass media, retail trade enterprises amounting $2.5 million, cooperatives, private security agencies, small scale mining, utilization of marine resources in territorial waters, ownership and management of cockpits, manufacture and distribution of nuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons, as well as manufacture of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.

    It allows foreigners to invest up to 40 percent in the exploration and utilization of natural resources, ownership of private lands, operation of public utilities, education institutions other than those established by religious groups and missions abroad, production and trading of rice and corn, contracts for supply of materials and commodities to government agencies, facility operator of an infrastructure project requiring public franchise, operation of deep see commercial fishing vessels, adjustment companies, and ownership of condominium units.

    WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND JAIME R. PILAPIL

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