Guingona: Consistency, not Charter change, needed
MANILA, Philippines—Consistency in government policies would attract foreign investors more effectively than altering the economic provisions of the Constitution, a Liberal Party senator said on Sunday.
“What we need to do is strengthen our institutions, remove corruption, make government more efficient, create jobs and hasten the delivery of justice,” said Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III in a radio interview.
“These are the things that would attract foreign investors and I don’t think we need to change the Constitution just to achieve any of these,” he added in Filipino.
Guingona said it would also be better if the high cost of energy was addressed and peace and order were preserved.
Any investor who wishes to make money would surely prefer a neighboring country that sells electricity at a lower price, he said.
More importantly, Guingona said, the government should be consistent with its policies as flip-flopping in its decisions could only send investors away.
The senator gave this statement to address the growing clamor, especially from congressmen, to take a second look at a suggestion to amend the Constitution, or Charter change (Cha-cha).
Guingona noted, for instance, the need to revise economic provisions of the Constitution and allow foreigners to own real estate in the country and set up businesses here permanently.
“The question that always recurs to me is why China, for example, operates under a system identical to ours where foreigners are also not allowed to own land but they are very prosperous and have many foreign investors,” Guingona said.
“Even in Singapore, foreigners cannot purchase land but they are very prosperous. Maybe just like Singapore, if we strengthen our government institutions and enliven the delivery of social services first, perhaps we don’t need to pay attention to Cha-cha suggestions at the moment,” he said.
Guingona said foreign investors had repeatedly said they appreciated environments where government policies were consistent.
“They want a government that keeps its word. They don’t like it when a government says something one day and another thing the next,” he said.
In the absence of policy predictability, he said an investor loses interest and looks somewhere else.
Guingona maintained that the solutions for the moment were “basic concerns” that would not require any alterations to the Constitution.
“The issue of kidnappings, for example, is an issue with foreign investors that cannot be resolved by Cha-cha. If you have a headache, you just take a pill to relieve the pain. There is no need for an operation,” he said.