Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian said a Charter change through House Joint Resolution No. 1, which seeks to amend restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution, will encourage foreign investors to take part in domestic energy market.
Gatchalian, a member of House committee on Trade and Industry, said making the market more open to foreign investors will likely increase power generation infrastructures that could avert the looming power crisis in the Philippines this coming 2016.
“Sinusulong po sa Kongreso ang Charter Change na nakapaloob sa Resolutions No. 1 na naka-file in both houses, kung saan babaguhin po ang ilang economic provisions ng ating Saligang Batas para lumaki ang ownership ng mga foreign investors sa ilang sector katulad ng public utilities,” Gatchalian explained.
“Kung maipapasa ang panukalang pagbabago sa economic provisions ng Konstitusyon, mas marami ang pwedeng mamuhunan sa energy market at mas dadami ang mga power plants. Makakatulong po ito upang malutas ang krisis sa enerhiya,” Gatchalian explained.
House Joint Resolution No. 1, principally authored by House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., seeks to lift the limits on 60-40 percent ownership rule unless otherwise provided by law.
According to the lawmaker, allowing Congress to relax limitations on foreign investments will increase the number of companies competing in the energy market likely to help the establishment of new power plants needed to sustain the business operations in the country.
However, Gatchalian clarified that he does not seek to make multinational companies the main economic driver in supporting a looser foreign policy, but rather, he wants to protect micro-finance enterprises and local businesses that might get affected by a possible power crisis.
“Kakaunti lamang ang may kakayahan at puhunan para sumali sa energy market. Kabilang dito ang Aboitiz, Ayala, First Gen, Metro Pacific, San Miguel, at SM. Dahil limitado lamang ang pwedeng maging shares ng foreign investors sa mga public utilities, hindi sila nahihikayat na mamuhunan sa bansa,” Gatchalian said.
“Nais ko lang pong liwanagin: pabor po ako sa mas malaking share ng foreign investors sa ilang sector tulad ng public utilities nguni’t hindi ako payag na hayaang magmay-ari ang mga dayuhan ng lupa. Ito po ay para protektahan ang hanapbuhay ng mga magsasaka at maliliit na negosyante,” he added.
The lawmaker had previously warned the government after Department of Energy or DoE Secretary Jericho Petilla last week admitted the country has a thin power supply in 2015 and stressed the need for additional generating capacity to avert a possible power crisis next year.
Gatchalian said the government has to solve power woes if it wants to attract more investors, especially with next year’s integration of ASEAN nations, noting that increasing business activities in the country will be stifled if their energy requirements are not met.
As of May, House Joint Resolution No. 1 is under deliberations before the House committee on Constitutional Amendments. (Tim Alcantara)