AS courageous as it was, it was a lonely effort from the very beginning. It had to contend with gross ignorance and political opportunism. At the end, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.’s initiative to amend the restrictive economic provisions of the Constitution could not be put to a vote because it did not have the numbers to ensure approval.
As matters stand, we just have to accept our fate-of being the least desirable destination of foreign direct investment (FDI). Consider the following data from the Asean database.
No doubt about it, the Philippines is the worst performing kid in the block, attracting the least FDI-$8.5 billion-a miserable 3 percent of the total that entered into the Asean
region from 2011 to 2013. It is superior only to each of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei who does not need FDI.
Rubbing salt to injury, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has just informed us that FDI in the Philippines in the first quarter of 2015 was down by 50 percent as compared to the FDI of the first quarter of a year ago.
Many things account for the attractiveness of a country to FDI, among them infrastructure, policy framework, perks and incentives. But the most extensive infrastructure, the friendliest policy environment and the most favorable incentives amount to nothing if FDI is not allowed to enter the country except under highly discriminatory conditions, to begin with, as is the case of FDI in our Constitution.
President Aquino has been opposed to any amendment of the Constitution, dismissing the restrictive economic provisions as having no significance since FDI has been coming into the country notwithstanding them. This is just plain inexcusable ignorance. What about the FDI that could not come into the country precisely because it is prevented from coming?
If there is appalling lack of knowledge in MalacaAang, political opportunism reigns supreme in the of House of Representatives. There, a great many representatives of the people have never heard of such things as principles or convictions. Their vote always goes to the highest bidder. In the case of the aborted voting on the proposed amendments, these people simply absented themselves from the session, to appear harmless while stabbing the Speaker in the back.
Our deepest admiration goes to Belmonte for standing up to overwhelming odds. We hope he persists in an endeavor that is clearly in the people’s interest.