27 September 2023

PHILIPPINES: Former PS chief says law ‘anti-China’

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A proposed amendment to the Philippines Public Service Act which prohibits the participation of foreign State-owned enterprises in any Government project classed as critical infrastructure clearly targets China, a former top Public Servant has claimed.

Peter Laviña, who headed the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said the large proportion of China’s enterprises were owned by the State.

“We should not legislate Sino-phobia. We are in fact, campaigning against racism and against anti-China policies and we should be watchful of the inserted provisions on our laws,” Mr Laviña (pictured) said.

“The Philippines has the most restrictive foreign policies in the region; that is why we are lagging behind the neighbours.

“That is why if we decide to open up, we should open up to everyone,” he said.

In December the Senate approved legislation amending the Public Service Act by providing a clearer differentiation between ‘public services’ and ‘public utilities’ that would free public services not considered natural monopolies from foreign equity restrictions.

This would allow foreign ownership of airlines and telecommunications firms, among other public services.

The Senate version of the Bill limits ‘public utility’ to services involving the distribution of electricity and water, sewerage pipeline systems, airports, seaports, and public utility vehicles.

Under the Constitution, public utilities must be 60 per cent Filipino-owned.

Manila, 16 January 2022

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