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PIA Press Release
2005/12/09

ConCom backs proposal to allow foreigners to explore RP natural resources

Quezon City (9 December) -- The Consultative Commission (Con-Com) approved in plenary session on Thursday evening the lifting of a provision restricting the exploration, development and utilization of natural resources of the country by foreigners.

This allows foreigners the full ownership of such corporations provided it will be under a joint venture with the State.

The present Constitution bars foreigners from owning corporations and limit the capital they could infuse in certain businesses.

The 55-man commission has also approved that the matter of limiting foreign ownership restriction on certain industries and businesses such as public utilities, educational institutions, and investments should be left to the discretion of the Parliament for legislation. The proposed revision of Article XII Sec. 10 states that “the Parliament shall, upon recommendation of the economic and planning agency, when the national or public interest dictates, provide for limitations on foreign ownership in certain areas of investments.”

Commissioner Vicente Paterno, chair of the Con-com Committee on National Patrimony and Economic Reforms, said they have encountered some public apprehensions as far as full foreign ownership on certain entities from the three-week nationwide consultations they have carried out.

“The reason is, there is a clear mandate from the people, there were some objections on full ownership on certain industries that’s why we have to leave the discretion to the Congress (Parliament),” Paterno said.

Commissioner Ma. Romela Bengzon, who is also a member of the Committee, said this would allow the Parliament to determine the need to enact laws in consonant to the need of the economic policy of the government.

“A well-drafted Constitution should really not have as much policies because of exigencies…if you only have a law, the policy can be changed anytime,” Bengzon said.

The joint exploration of the State and a 100-percent owned foreign corporation was approved by a clear majority from the members of the Commission.

The Commission also approved that alienable lands of public domain, which would be limited to agricultural lands, may be held by private corporations and associations, including foreigners through lease, the terms of which would be determined by the Parliament.

As to ownership of private non-agricultural lands, the Commission decided that the Parliament would have to define the conditions for ownership.

The Commission has approved as a body on Wednesday the proposed shift from the present presidential system to a parliamentary form of government.

It will submit its recommendations to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on December 15. (PNA ConCom Press Center/RBC/JMC/www.pna.gov.ph) [top]

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