CIBAC Party-List Representatives Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Domeng Rivera vote NO on during the 3rd reading of House Bill 78 or the Public Service Act Amendment at the House of Representatives.
“I believe that this measure violates our Constitution and that it may do more harm than help our Filipino people in the long run. The bill will in effect, open such major industries—like transportation, communication, and water supply systems, to name a few—not just to major foreign investment but to absolute foreign ownership. It is a direct infringement of the 1987 Constitution, which expressly states in Article XII, Section 11 that “no franchise, certificate, or any other form of authorization for the operation of a public utility shall be granted except to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations organized under the laws of the Philippines at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens, nor shall such franchise, certificate, or authorization be exclusive in character or for a longer period than fifty years,” Deputy Speaker Villanueva said.
“Filipinos should support Filipinos first. These principles are keenly upheld by aforementioned provision in the Constitution. To confine the categorization of “public utility” to few industries will subject our populace to the terms and ruling of foreign investors who will be allowed to take ownership of other entities who provides public service,” adds Deputy Speaker Villanueva added.
For his part, Congressman Domeng Rivera said that “with all the economic, social, security and even health problems that we are troubleshooting in the proliferation of POGOs and negative impact of the rice tarrification law, I think our government, our economy and our country is not yet ready to be left at the mercies of the foreig capitalists.”
Under the 1987 Constitution, at least 60% of public utility enterprises’ capital stock must be owned by Filipino citizens or corporations. However, the Constitution itself does not define a “public utility” and, accordingly, the term has been interpreted as synonymous to all public services.
When passed into law, HB 78 will amend the 81-year old Public Services Act to provide a statutory definition of public utility. This denotes that a industries like transportation, communication and even media will allow the full ownership of foreign entities.
House Bill 78 was approved by Congress with 136 affirmative and 43 negative with 1 abstention on Tuesday.