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Amcham pushing for reciprocity for practicing professionals

/ 09:29 PM August 29, 2011

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (Amcham) is pushing for the introduction of a reciprocity provision in laws restricting the practice of certain professions to Filipino nationals.

In a letter to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Amcham executive director Jeffrey Woodruff noted the “policy bias in favor of Philippine citizens” that the Constitution had laid down. Despite this, some professions allowed local practice by foreigners by way of specific laws that contained reciprocity provisions.

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Woodruff said that of the 47 existing laws governing the practice of specific professions, 42 contained reciprocity provisions, allowing foreign nationals to practice such professions here in exchange for allowing Filipinos to practice the same in their countries.

Five laws continued to limit local practice to Filipino citizens, such as those governing criminologists, environmental planners, foresters, pharmacists and radio X-ray technologists.

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“As chair of the committee on civil service, we believe that you have the opportunity to remove indirectly the restriction on professions via legislation, as you have proposed. By introducing the principle of reciprocity in several bills regulating profession being tackled by your committee, you liberalize the practice of a profession by a foreigner,” Woodruff said.

“By inserting a reciprocity provision in the above laws, Congress will, in effect, make the restriction in the Constitution a dead letter,” he added.

Trillanes’ committee on civil service and government reorganization has already conducted hearings and technical working group meetings on bills pertaining to civil engineering, medicine, mining engineering, interior design, environmental planning and geology.

Amcham urged Trillanes to insert a reciprocity provision in these bills.

In an earlier interview, Amcham senior adviser John Forbes said the government should review the existing Philippines Regular Foreign Investment Negative List, which contains too many professions that foreigners are banned from practicing here.

Under the Negative List, 22 major professions, some with a number of sub-categories under them, can only be practiced by Filipino citizens.

These include 12 types of jobs in the field of engineering, 11 kinds of medical and allied services including general medicine and dentistry, accountancy, architecture, criminology, chemistry, customs brokerage, environmental planning, forestry, geology, interior design, landscape architecture, law, librarianship, marine deck and marine engine officers, master plumbing, sugar technology, social work, teaching, agriculture and fisheries.

“The 60-40 ownership structure and the numerous restrictions on the practice of certain professions, you’ll have to change that. This can be done by changing the way the Constitution is written or by eliminating items from the negative list,” Forbes said.

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TAGS: American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Business, Employment, jobs, Laws, professions
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