Draft constitution 'backward-looking' – economic advocacy group

MANILA, Philippines – Advocacy group Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) expressed concern over the proposed constitution drafted by President Rodrigo Duterte's Consultative Committee, saying that it retained "restrictive and protectionist provisions" of the 1987 Constitution.

FEF cited at least 7 provisions that were retained in the draft constitution which they deemed "responsible for the country's historically inferior growth relative to the economic aspirations of the broader Filipino population and relative to the country's neighbors." (DOCUMENT: Final version of Consultative Committee draft constitution)

The group called these provisions "backward-looking, anti-modernist, and protectionist."

One such provision restricts foreign ownership of corporations to at most 40%. The draft also specifies that foreigners may lease not more than 1,000 hectares of alienable land for at most 50 years. (READ: 4 things you need to know about Duterte Con-Com's draft constitution)

But the draft includes a provision that allows Congress to change the voting capital requirements, provided that it meets certain conditions like public welfare and national security.

"While we acknowledge that the draft constitution allows Congress to change the voting capital requirement and other requirements under certain conditions, the draft constitution does not fulfill the change that President Duterte promised. Instead, it retains the present restrictive provisions in the current Constitution and signals that change will only happen if and when Congress sees fit," FEF said. 

The group proposed that the new constitution lift foreign ownership restrictions and liberalize the market.

Duterte has been vocal about lifting foreign restrictions for corporations. During the campaign period, he proposed to "tinker with the Constitution" for foreign investors to be more comfortable with investing in the Philippines. 

Duterte's economic managers have also expressed interest in lifting foreign ownership restrictions for certain sectors. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.