Foreigners can own public utilities, not land–Duterte

President Duterte is endorsing the lifting of restrictions on foreign ownership of public utilities—now a subject of deliberations on the proposed changes in the Constitution in Congress—but would not allow foreigners to own land.

During a business forum attended by representatives of big businesses held in Malacañang on Monday night, Duterte said he is willing to increase the foreign equity in public utilities to as high as 70 percent.

“About the Constitution, I am ready to reverse the 60-40 [requirement]. As long as Congress is also ready, I will go along with it,” Duterte said.

“I’m ready to do it. Just pay the taxes and get the profits and go away after. But you know, I am more after the opportunity for Filipinos, their employment; that is my purpose. You build something here, and there has to be something that moves economically, and for me, it’s alright. The worry here is unemployment, actually,” he added.

Duterte, however, said he will oppose any change in the Constitution that will allow foreigners to acquire land in the Philippines.

“But you know, there is something which [I will oppose]—it’s a fundamental irreconcilable difference with me and some of the congressmen because even the Speaker before, who was my political enemy, already agreed to sell lands—selling lands to foreigners. I am sorry, but I am not ready for that kind because most of the Filipinos are poor. And with the growing economy of the supergiant, China and the rest, they can always come here and buy the land and they can buy the whole of Tondo and relocate there and we’ll have nothing and everything sold,” he pointed out.

Duterte said these proposed changes in the economic provisions of the Constitution could be in place by the midterm election in May 2019 at the soonest.

Image Credits: AP/Aaron Favila