Senate Bill No. 1754 / Committee Report No. 301
The New Public Service Law of the Philippines
March 20, 2018 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon
Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines, Pasay City
Delivered by HON. WIN GATCHALIAN, Senator of the Republic:
Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, good afternoon to you all.
Mr. President, I am a firm believer in the power of free and fair competition to advance consumer interests. In almost every economic sector imaginable, the entry of additional players vying for the business of potential consumers would tend to result in higher quality services and lower prices for consumers. Therefore, it has been one of the priorities of the pro-consumer Senate Committee on Economic Affairs to champion legislation aimed at fostering greater competition across the entire spectrum of economic activity.
As chairman of said committee, I am proud to co-sponsor here today an important bill – more than 80 years in the making, really – that furthers this vision for pro-consumer competition by fostering a more conducive investment climate in the operation of public services. This long overdue measure, once passed into law, will result in more choices, better services, and lower prices for the Filipino consumer.
Mr. President, to achieve this, Senate Bill No. 1754 seeks to amend the 82-year old Commonwealth Act No. 146, widely known as the Public Services Act, in order to supply something that has been lacking in the law for more than eight decades now – a clear definition of public utility. By narrowing the definition of public utility to include only public services that are natural monopolies, we will be in effect removing key public services such as telecommunications and common carrier transportation from the realm of the Constitution’s foreign equity restrictions for public utilities.
Simply put, this amendment of the law will result in an explosive inflow of foreign direct investment into these critical economic sectors. Indeed, the record-setting FDI mark of 10 billion U.S. dollars set by the economy in 2017 pales in comparison to what we could reach upon passage of this measure.
In addition, this measure also brings the administrative mechanisms of CA 146 up to speed. The more efficient and responsive processes for administration, regulation, and enforcement contained in this bill will improve the ease of doing business in these sectors, thus further encouraging market entry and greater competition.
In closing, Mr. President, allow me to thank the worthy principal sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1754, Senator Grace Poe, for her active and able stewardship of what I see as one of the most important pieces of economic legislation to be taken up during this Congress. In the spirit of free and fair competition and pro-consumer values, I join Senator Poe and the other sponsors and authors in calling for the swift approval of this landmark economic bill.
Thank you, Mr. President.