Press Release
July 23, 2012

Enrile cites need for friendlier investment
climate to attract foreign businesses

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile today said government must address vital economic measures to further improve the country's economy, noting that the current international economic trends tended to favor the Southeast Asian Region.

He said that while world economists were optimistic that the Southeast Asian economy was in the upswing, there was a need for the Philippine government to adopt new economic policies because "countries with the friendliest investment climates will be able to attract business."

Speaking before the opening of the Third Regular Session of the Fifteenth Congress, Enrile, however, also stressed that government must also protect local businesses.

"The improvement of the economy is a government's vital concern. But our way of allowing business to prosper must be guided, not only by a sense of free enterprise, but also by the spirit of stewardship," Enrile also said.

Citing Burma as an example, Enrile said a number of multinational corporations were training their investment sights to Southeast Asia.

"Although we desire to emerge as the country which can bag these economic opportunities, we should not permit it to happen at the expense of the local economy," he added. "We should also be mindful that unbridled business expansion often leads to the transformation of corporations into conglomerates that may prove unhealthy in the long run. "

According to Enrile, experts in business and economy have suggested that when only a few emerge as owners of business, a majority of the people are reduced to "being workers along the conveyor belt or robot consumers of products they have no control over," adding that "the concentration of wealth that these businesses generate leaves less for those who already have none." Enrile, who has been vocal of the need to amend the 1987 Constitution "precisely to allow for a better economic climate", said that amending certain economic provisions in the Constitution will enable the government to be more flexible in allowing for the foreign ownership of certain industries, particularly those that are involved in the exploration, development and utilization of our natural resources.

The Senate President said the Senate will prioritize measures geared towards generating an economic climate that "encourages the creation of goods and services in a playing field that is intentionally made fair for all."

Among the bills that will be prioritized, according to Enrile, is Senate Bill 3098, which seeks to prohibit or discourage the formation of anti-competitive mergers and anti-competitive conduct.

"In order to protect our people, we must ensure that prices are dictated by the market and not fixed as a result of any corporation's control over the quantity of products produced," Enrile said, adding that "we should not permit businesses to abuse their dominant status by artificially creating barriers against other firms who want to do business."

Enrile also reiterated the need to pass Senate Bill 3071, which aims to promote competitive Filipino design by strengthening the Product Development and Design Center of the Philippines and at the same time pass Senate Bill 2842, which seeks to upgrade the copyright section of the Department of Trade and Industry into a servicing bureau under the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

"These two bills will help encourage Filipino entrepreneurs and ensure that they able to enjoy the economic benefits that can be derived from their creations," Enrile said.

Enrile also addressed the need for more consumer protection initiatives especially in the face of rampant reports of the sale of "botcha," meat products taken from animals that died because of contamination or disease.

"The sale of contaminated food is a health hazard that our families must never endure. Senate Bill 2746 provides that meat and meat products bear a label indicating its place of origin. Once enacted into law, this requirement will energize our meat retail industry by bringing back the public's trust in their products," Enrile said.

Enrile also said that the Senate will prioritize Senate Bill 3199, which provides for an improved framework by which the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and its attached agencies can improve housing conditions specially in already-crowded urban communities. He also mentioned the National Land Use Act under Senate Bill 3091, which he says is "ripe for review".

Another priority measure is Senate Bill 3208, which is more popularly known as the People's Ownership over Government Information (POGI) Bill.

"We in the Senate commit to the principle that the key to good government is accountability. I would think that, with a few exceptions, government spending should be open to public scrutiny. Passing the POGI Bill is important because it will establish the guiding policy to the public's access to basic information about the government operations, thereby making government agencies more accountable to their constituencies," Enrile explained.

Enrile also mentioned the need to tackle the Reproductive Health Bill, a measure that he says have been cause for intense debates. "The issues raised by the Reproductive Health Bill and the charter change stem from a need we have to address and thus demand an answer from this chamber. I know that we, in the Senate, will tackle these issues with tact and bravery," he added.

Other measures that the Senate is set to prioritize are Senate Bill No. 3093, declaring the filing of false complaints against public officers as an aggravating circumstance of perjury; Senate Bill No. 2857, institutionalizing the participation of civil society organizations in the preparation of the annual national budget; Senate Bill No. 107, requiring public officials and employees to submit a written permission of waiver in favor of the Ombudsman to look into bank deposits; Senate Bill No. 3214, strengthening the political party system; and Senate Bill No. 3123, further amending the Anti- Money Laundering Act.

Enrile also lauded the work being done by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election Systems, which he says provides the basis for Congress' concurrence with the purchase by the Commission on Elections of PCOS machines.

"We are counting on the work of this oversight committee to ensure not only the timely delivery and testing of these PCOS machines but also to ascertain that all the other requirements and preparations for the 2013 elections will be dutifully undertaken by all agencies concerned," Enrile said.

With regards to the submission of the proposed 2013 national budget by the Executive Department to Congress in the next few weeks, Enrile said that he was confident that the Senate Committee on Finance will work hard for the timely passage of the 2013 budget.

"I am certain that the Committee will see to it that the 2013 budget will be thoroughly studied so that each peso contributed by every Filipino's toil will be spent wisely and conscientiously on programs and projects for the country's gain," Enrile said.

The Senate earlier passed several measures that were enacted into law, which includes the following, among others: R.A. 10154 which seeks to guarantee the early release of government employees' retirement pay; R.A. 10156 which confers civil service eligibility to the members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Panglungsod and Panlalawigan, under certain conditions; R.A. 10158 which decriminalizes vagrancy; R.A. 10167 which strengthens the Anti Money Laundering Law and plugs the loop-holes in the old law; and, R.A. 10168 which prohibits financing of terrorist activities.

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