Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos: Charter change ‘not a priority’

Sofia Tomacruz

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Marcos: Charter change ‘not a priority’

BACK IN MANILA. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. arrives on February 13, 2023, from an official working visit to Japan.


President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. says the Philippines can attract foreign investments without changing the Constitution

ABOARD THE PRESIDENTIAL PLANE – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. downplayed the need to revise the 1987 Constitution to attract foreign investments, as he preferred to work around existing laws to achieve this goal.

“It’s not a priority for me,” Marcos told reporters aboard the presidential plane PR001 on Sunday, February 12, when asked about Congress’ push to amend the charter.

“There are many other things that need to be done,” he added in Filipino. “For me, all these things being talked about, we can do without changing the Constitution.”

The 1987 Constitution – ratified after the downfall of the President’s father, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in February 1986 – limits to 40% the foreign ownership of companies in the Philippines. The Philippines’ ownership laws have been viewed as the most restrictive in Southeast Asia, prompting policymakers – including Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte – to push for charter change.

Efforts to amend the constitution for economic purposes, however, have also been linked to plans to extend the term limits in government posts. Under the 1987 Constitution, a Philippine president is allowed only one term of six years – a safeguard put in place to prevent another dictator, like the Marcos patriarch, from staying in power for more than two decades.

The second Marcos presidency was feared to push to amend the Aquino-era charter, but the President’s statement on Sunday was expected to quell such concerns.

Still, the President’s cousin House Speaker Martin Romualdez – who presides over the Marcos supermajority at the House of Representatives – sees charter change as the “final piece of the puzzle” in attracting foreign investments. Romualdez’s push comes as Congress once again holds hearings to debate the necessity of charter change.

“We will see how we can make our constitution more open and less restrictive because we feel that that is the final piece of the puzzle to bring about a better economic environment, a more open one, to be more competitive,” Romualdez told reporters in Japan.

Economists have so far been split on the issue, with some saying that existing laws were already liberal enough for foreign businesses to operate in the country, while others argued that constitutional constraints, such as foreign ownership of land, made the Philippines less attractive for foreign investors. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.