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Pinoys support Charter tweaks

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Poll: 6 in 10 favor economic Cha-cha

Six out of ten Filipinos believe the removal of restrictions against foreign investments and businesses in the Constitution may lead to more high-quality jobs, better services, and lower prices of goods, according to a recent Pulse Asia survey commissioned by international think tank Stratbase Institute.

The polling firm released the survey results on Wednesday during a consultative session on Charter Change organized by the Democracy Watch Philippines.

The survey, conducted from March 6 to 10, asked 1,200 respondents from all over the country about what they think would be the possible outcomes of the removal of restrictions against foreign investors or businesses in the Constitution.

The respondents were presented with a list of six options and were allowed to choose up to three.

Removing restrictions on foreign investments was among the proposed economic amendments in the Constitution under the Resolution of Both Houses 7.

Results show that 64 percent of Filipinos believe that lifting the restrictions may lead to “an increase in high quality jobs with high salaries and better benefits” while 56% believe that “services to stakeholders/customers will be better.”

More than half or 55% of Filipinos also believe that such action may result to “foreign capital will dominate local investors and businesses” while 54% think that “the price of goods and services will decrease.”

Moreover, the same survey also asked Filipinos what they think are the most significant factors that hinder foreign investments in the Philippines. They were also allowed to choose three answers from a list of eight options.

Majority or 56% identified “complicated rules and regulations like red tape, changes in government policies and regulations”, while 55% blamed “restrictive rules on foreign ownership.”

Forty-six percent said “corruption in the public sector” hinders foreign investments in the country, while 40% chose “inadequate transportation infrastructure.”

During the consultative discussion, Stratbase Institute President Dindo Manhit noted that “investments are a crucial tool in increasing a nation’s productivity while also generating employment, providing income security, and alleviating other economic hardships being experienced by millions of Filipinos.”

He then echoed the survey results and emphasized the need to create a business environment that enables growth and innovation through market-friendly public policies, transparency, and good governance to encourage more investments in the country.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Julian Payne stressed the need to ease economic restrictions to keep up with a “competitive world.”

“When we talk about charter change, we shouldn’t be talking about just liberalization… we are talking about flexibility and immediate response to this changing world of globalization, digitalization economies, and rapid change,” Payne said.

For Foundation for Economic Freedom Board Member Gary Teves, it is high time the Philippines became at par with the laws of other countries, especially as President Marcos’ foreign trips open opportunities for potential investors.

“If the legal framework in the Philippines is so different from the others, they might say let’s just go out to the next country,” Teves added.

TradeAdvisors CEO Tony Abad agreed. “What is guaranteed is we keep the Constitution as is, you’ll keep out the investors,” he said.

On concerns that there are issues more pressing than amending the Constitution, Abad said these can be addressed simultaneously.

“We can’t have a rigid, old-fashioned, and very faulty Constitution in place. It’s gonna be a great disservice to the population. You need a Constitution that makes your government and your people move fast – address changes quickly. That’s why there’s no sequencing, you don’t have to address corruption first,” he said.

FEF lead economist Cha Ubarra said laws have been passed unlocking the country’s doors to foreign investments, but they are at risk of constitutional challenge without charter change.

“What adding ‘unless otherwise provided by law’ can do is to stop the possibility of that door locking again,” Ubarra said.


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