Leaving a Legacy by C. de los Angeles
I read in newspaper reports that President Duterte has certified as urgent Senate Bill 2094 and 1156 which will allow 100% ownership of public services like telecommunications, power generation, petroleum, wire or wireless communications and transportation. I am for opening the economy to foreign investments, most especially in light of the covid pandemic, as this will help our country’s economy recover.
However, in light with recent global events that is affecting our country, I believe these are not the most prudent laws to be passed at the moment.
I believe industries that affect national security should either be nationalized or at the very least, majority owned by Filipinos.
Telecommunications or any form of communication is vital in this day of age. Just imagine if foreign powers can listen into our conversations, most especially our political leaders, military, police, business leaders or even everyday citizens. Imagine having the power to block content on issues that concern us or the ability to shut down communications in a nationwide emergency like a war or natural calamities. We sometimes have mistrust amongst ourselves, what more of foreign countries who may have ulterior motives in controlling us.
Power generation is crucial because it is what powers our homes and our businesses. Do we entrust foreigners to control this? If a country wanted to control us, they may increase the power rates, everything becomes expensive which will make us poorer and when we are desperate, they can opt to buy us at a discounted price. Or what if in case of war, they decide to just shut down our power all together?
Imagine if Petron or other petroleum companies were all owned by foreigners. They can increase the pump prices at their whim which will increase prices of all commodities, making our goods expensive and uncompetitive in the global markets and for our countrymen as well. What if in case of war they cut fuel supply, how will the country be able to move?
How about transportation? If airlines, bus companies and sea vessels are all foreign owned, how will we choose to move in case of war and they decide to shut down transportation?
The idea may be far-fetched to some, however, it is still a possibility. Shouldn’t the prudent thing be to err on the side of caution? Let us forget about the prospect of war. How about for economic reasons? Economic flight?
Foreign owned companies would like to move their profit and capital back to their home countries. By not being citizens of this country, there is no motivation for them to spend and expand our economy.
Again, while I am for the opening of the economy to foreign investments, I am against opening it up for select industries that affect our national security, especially those that involve public utility or public service. To even be more radical, I would argue that public utility or public service be state-owned and operated as a non profit to have our countrymen reap the savings benefit and help our country and economy grow.
In the Middle East, Brunei and other countries, petroleum industries are state-owned. This allows them to subsidize fuel prices to allow cheaper airfare, bus fare and lower logistics costs which will bring down the prices of goods, as well as create more savings for their citizens.
In telecommunications, the western world was an uproar on the use of Huawei 5G technology for possible espionage and took steps to restrict its use. Yet here in the Philippines, it is not only technology, but the whole company we are giving up control over.
Again, we can open other parts of the economy, but those relating to national security and public services, let us maintain it in our control. We objected to Chinese party owning National Grid Corporation as well as the possibility of them shutting down our power, but we are now okay with them owning 100%? How about Ditto? We complained about the minority stake of China Telecommunications during the franchise hearing, but now we are allowing majority ownership?
Why is President Duterte in a rush to grant these requests before he steps down? Who is to benefit? The western world is suffering because of COVID, yet China’s economy is miraculously still moving forward COVID FREE. Who do you think is in the best position to grab this opportunity if our country opens up? Only one country comes to mind, and it is not in our best interest for any country to have a monopoly of our key assets. We might as well be their province if that is the case, but, I will fight and I hope all of you will fight with me to our last drop of blood to prevent this from happening.