POSTSCRIPT / September 9, 2014 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

Share on facebook
Share This
Share on twitter
Twitter

What Charter changes on aliens are needed?

BE SPECIFIC: Instead of griping in general about strict provisions of the Constitution, advocates of amendments opening the door wider to foreign investors should specify the changes they want. That way, the issues could be joined, thus facilitating a more intelligent debate.

The broad line of proponents of economic amendments is that aliens are discouraged by constitutional restrictions on their engaging in the exploitation of natural resources, the operation of public utilities, and other business activities, as well as their acquiring real property.

The Constitution imposes limitations on aliens’ owning certain property and/or managing businesses reserved for Filipinos. Cha-cha proponents should pinpoint the tight provisions they want loosened up — and say to what extent – so the debate can proceed.

* * *

LIMITATIONS: Here are some of those provisions. Article XII (National Economy and Patrimony) says:

Section 2. xxx The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years….

“The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

“The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law….

Section 3. xxx Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the public domain except by lease, for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years, and not to exceed 1,000 hectares in area. Citizens of the Philippines may lease not more than 500 hectares, or acquire not more than 12 hectares thereof, by purchase, homestead, or grant.

Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.

Section 8. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 7…, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law.

Section 10. The Congress shall… reserve to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations at least 60 per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens, or such higher percentage as Congress may prescribe, certain areas of investments. xxx In the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos.

Section 11. 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 60 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 50 years. xxx The participation of foreign investors in the governing body of any public utility enterprise shall be limited to their proportionate share in its capital, and all the executive and managing officers of such corporation or association must be citizens of the Philippines.”

* * *

MASS MEDIA, ADVERTISING: There are also restrictions on aliens’ involvement in mass media and advertising in Section 11 of Article XVI (General Provisions):

“1. The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.

“The Congress shall regulate or prohibit monopolies in commercial mass media when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition therein shall be allowed.

“2. The advertising industry is impressed with public interest, and shall be regulated by law for the protection of consumers and the promotion of the general welfare.

“Only Filipino citizens or corporations or associations at least 70 per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens shall be allowed to engage in the advertising industry.

“The participation of foreign investors in the governing body of entities in such industry shall be limited to their proportionate share in the capital thereof, and all the executive and managing officers of such entities must be citizens of the Philippines.”

Do Cha-cha proponents also want to amend these provisions? In what manner?

* * *

BARRED: A stockholder of the Alliance Select Food International Inc. grumbles that for almost two and a half months now, the Securities and Exchange Commission has failed to act on his complaint that ASFI refuses to recognize his rights as a shareholder.

Necisto U. Sytengco, an ASFI minority stockholder, told the SEC in a letter that he went to the corporation’s scheduled regular stockholders meeting last June 16, 2014, accompanied by his lawyer, but was barred by two “burly security guards”.

When he demanded an explanation, he said, a lawyer from ACCRA Law faced them and still refused them entry. He added that he was told by ASFI lawyers to challenge in court their barring him. He wrote the SEC last June 17.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 9, 2014)

Share your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.