Members of the House of Representatives move closer in passing a bill that supersedes certain provisions of an 84-year old act that restricts foreign ownership of public utilities in the country.
Enacted as Commonwealth Act No. 146 in 1936, the Public Service Act stated the definition of public service which includes public utilities.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution, on the other hand, states that at least 60% capital stock of Philippine companies must be owned by Filipinos as well as having at least 60% of the board members of Filipino nationality.
In House Bill No. 78, authored by Rep. Joey Salceda, public utilities such as power, water, and communications would be removed from public services and clearly defining it as a public utility. On track for its third and final hearing, the bill is seen to further liberalize public utilities and develop service and technology to provide Filipinos improved delivery of basic services.
Opposition members, however, seek to derail the said act in fears of compromising the Philippines’ self-interest and security. The bill is also seen as unconstitutional as it aims to amend certain provisions of the constitution without the proper forum.
On the issue that the bill will pave the way for Chinese companies participating in investing in public utilities, the supporters of the bill said that it would not only open the country to Chinese investments but equally as well to other nations such as the United States.
"More competition among providers would result in lower prices and improved quality of basic services in the Philippines creating a more competitive economy towards a better quality of life for all." Rep. Salcedo said in his explanatory note.
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