Senator Risa Hontiveros warned that allowing foreigners to fully own public utilities may lead to China controlling crucial infrastructure in the Philippines.
“If foreigners are allowed 100-percent ownership of our public utilities, it will pave the way for China to own and have full control of crucial infrastructure in the country,” said Hontiveros.
Hontiveros issued the statement following plenary debates early this week on Senate Bill 2094 or the amendments to the Public Service Act. The House version of the proposed measure was approved on March 10 last year.
She warned that China may use this as leverage against the Philippines when it comes to disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
“China does not stop from advancing in the West Philippine Sea. Now, we will give it a means to acquire infrastructures within our country,” Hontiveros said in bilingual.
The proposed amendments to the PSA allow telecommunications and transportation to be opened up to 100-percent foreign ownership.
Hontiveros, who voted “no” to the approval of DITO Telecommunity’s franchise, said improving services in the country should not come at the expense of national security.
"We have vital national security interests that should never be compromised,” she said.
“We should heighten restrictions on foreign ownership as China's encroachment in the WPS escalates; not make it easier for her to establish a stronghold in our own land," Hontiveros said.
She said national security concerns on existing public utilities should also be resolved. She said these include China’s stake in DITO Telecom, the country’s third major telecom player.
Hontiveros filed Senate Resolution 137 in 2019 to investigate the Armed Forces of the Philippines' deal with Dito, which allows the telco to build facilities in the AFP's camps and stations.
“If we open up our transport sector, for example, does this mean that the so-called Chinese maritime militia can apply for licenses or permits to operate in our domestic waters? We are all for economic development, but never at the expense of our national dignity and sovereignty," Hontiveros said.