Press Release
June 7, 2018


Easing up restrictions on foreign investments in some sectors will attract more investors and generate much needed jobs for Filipinos, Sen. Grace Poe said.

Poe said it is high time to pass the proposed amendments to the 81-year-old Public Services Act to allow foreign entities to come in and invest, which would result in increased competition, better quality services and creation of jobs.

"Isa sa mga itinutulak ko at sana ay maitulak rin ito ng Malacanang, katulad ng pagtutulak nila ng ibang measures katulad ng TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) at BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), na ipasa na ang Public Services Act," she said in a phone interview.

Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, said the bill would open up the economy "the right way."

"I-oopen up natin ang ating ekonomiya sa mga foreign investors. Huwag matatakot ang ating mga kababayan na papasok ang dayuhan sapagkat, hindi naman ako papayag na bumili sila ng lupa dito. Pero ang negosyo na itatayo nila, hindi naman nila madadala ang gusali nila, kung sila ay magbibigay ng trabaho, kung mag-iinvest sila ng pera dito dahil ang ownership restriction ay tatanggalin sa kanila," Poe said.

The bill proposes to remove foreign ownership restrictions on public services such as transportation and telecommunications. However, the constitutional restriction would remain on public utilities, namely, transmission of electricity, distribution of electricity, and water works and sewerage systems.

Poe said the bill would include a clause that would guarantee the availability of jobs for Filipinos.

In a report last week, the Philippine Statistics Authority said that while the jobless rate slightly declined to 5.5 percent in April, underemployment rose to 17 percent.

The underemployed is defined by the PSA as "employed persons who express the desire to have additional hours of work in their present job, or to have additional job, or to have a new job with longer working hours."

The senator said investments are much needed in the transportation sector, such as rails and airports. She cited the completion of Terminal 2 (T2) of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in Lapu-Lapu City, which she described as Cebu's "masterpiece."

Set to open this month, the world-class terminal is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project with the joint venture of Megawide Consortium and India's GMR Infrastructure with a cost of P17.52 billion.

The new terminal building will serve domestic and international operations and has a capacity of up to 12.5 million passengers yearly.

Poe visited the terminal while it was undergoing construction in March.

"It warms the heart. Now you can see the tangible result, you can now see the structure. Mayroong produktong mapapakinabangan ng ating mga kababayan," Poe said.

She said the Terminal 2 of MCIA is an example of how effective PPP projects can work. But she added that safeguards must be in place to ensure that the private operators will not overcharge the public.

"I'm more agreeable na magkaroon ng PPP or build-operate-transfer, kaysa naman iyong ODA (Official Development Assistance)...hindi na tayo uutang, sila ang maglalabas ng pera, sila ang magpapatakbo," she said.

"Sana po ay makinig naman ang gobyerno natin na bawas-bawasan natin ang pangungutang, lalung-lalo na sa ibang bansa, hayaan natin ang pribadong kumpanya na umutang, kung sila naman ay gagawa ng isang proyekto--ang bantayan lang natin ay 'wag silang mag-overcharge. Nasa kapangyarihan naman natin na maglagay ng limitasyon diyan sa kanilang paniningil," Poe added. END

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