Duterte Opens Philippines To Foreign Investment
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is outspoken about his intentions of opening three major sectors to foreign investors. He believes that such measure will spur the country's economic growth, promote competitiveness, and improve the quality of service.
President Duterte declared that opening the telecommunications, the airwaves, and the energy sectors to the global market will remove the country from the grip of the few people who hold the power and the money.
"The only way to make this country move faster to benefit the poor is really to open up the communications, the airwaves and the entire energy sector. My decision now is to open the Philippine economy to other players," said President Duterte upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport last Wednesday. This was after his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Peru.
He mentioned that they are now finalizing plans to open the ICT industry to new players in a bid to achieve improved quality of services.
Compared to its Asian neighbors, the Philippine mobile internet and voice services are ranked among the slowest in the region.
He clarified, however, that, his decision should not be misunderstood as quarreling with the Ayalas and Manuel V. Pangilinan, the most dominant duopoly in the telecommunications sector.
President Duterte had previously warned the telecom owners in the country to shape up or face foreign competition.
Since there had also been complaints from the investors regarding the country's regulations on foreign investment, the President assured that they are already "looking into regulatory requirements and institutional arrangements to hasten the entry of new players in the power industry and energy sector."
Opening up the said sectors will also require amendments to be made in the 1987 Constitution. Currently, the Constitution limits foreign ownership of public utilities to 40 percent.
And with President Duterte's strong war against corruption, he also shared his plans of conducting an audit of the Energy Regulatory Commission. He threatened to order the filing of cases against officials proven to be involved in such malicious transactions.
Allegations of corruption have been lurking around the commission, with ERC Director Francisco Jose Villa Jr. committing suicide after being pressured to manipulate the bidding in favor of the ERC chair's preferred companies.
According to the President, opening the country to foreign businesses on the said sectors is his way to re-route the entire red tape and remove protectionism. Such moves from the President reflect the joint commitment by the leaders of the APEC nations.