THE country’s top economic experts are stand squarely behind the proposed amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.
Two prominent economic experts, Dr. Bernardo Villegas and Anthony Abad, agree that current moves to liberalize the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution should be supported and that the amendments being introduced should be approved soonest.
To date, the House committee on Constitutional amendments is conducting preliminary hearings on Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH No. 2) authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, seeking to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in sections of Articles XII, XIV and XVI of the Constitution.
Eminent economist Villegas, who is also one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, noted that the Philippines is one of the fastest emerging economies in the world, averaging 6 percent growth before the pandemic hit.
Villegas added that the country’s economy is still expected to grow, even in the midst of a pandemic.
“We are rated high in terms of financial strength because over the last 10 years, we have strengthened our financial institutions. Now, we are considered to have one of the best central banking system in East Asia,” Villegas said in a virtual forum entitled “RBH 2 and Its Impact on Economic Liberalization” hosted by BusinessWorld on Friday.
He said that the country is poised for a dynamic growth in the next 10 years, and the amendments to the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution will help in further boosting the profile of the Philippines to foreign direct investors.
“The Asia Pacific Region has not fallen into the extreme positions of protectionism like Brexit, America 1st. Within our region, because of the comprehensive regional economic partnership that was just signed, we are still open to trading and investing with one another,” Villegas stressed.
Villegas cited the country’s agriculture sector as a prime area where direct foreign investments could rev up productivity through much needed capital and technological inflow.
“China and our Northeast Asian neighbors are struggling with food security. They will need as much food as possible for their people, and Thailand and Vietnam are already taking advantage of this situation,” he said.
In the same forum, Abad, a lawyer who specializes in international trade, said that a Constitution rarely includes specific economic provisions such as foreign direct investments (FDI).
“There is usually a general statement that focuses on the promotion of national development. In fact, most Charters of other countries are short and concise,” Abad said.
Abad also stated that the Philippines ranked highest when it comes to FDI regulatory restrictiveness, according to the 2019 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) restrictiveness index.
The country accounts for only 6.3 percent of the entire FDI in the ASEAN region.
Abad added that while a Constitution should provide limits to the powers of Government, it should not hinder the ability of the government to act for the benefit of the country, especially in times of need like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a need to revise the Constitution. it is not written in stone to the extent that we are compromising our ability to alleviate poverty, to ensure that everyone is well-fed. The capital has to be there. we cannot do it as a closed system,” Abad said. Jester P. Manalastas