ANGELES CITY — President Duterte’s plan to fully open up the economy to foreign investments may be one of the “new threats to sovereignty” which requires public vigilance, said an activist leader as 700 protesters rallied on Thursday at Plaza Miranda here to mark the 154th birth anniversary of Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio.
In relaxing restrictions that used to protect some sectors in the current Foreign Investment Negative List, President Duterte was “defaulting on the government’s role to ensure the most basic of services,” said lawyer Virginia Suarez, secretary general of the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), which participated in the march along with the Workers for People’s Liberation (WPL) and Pagkakaisa ng Kababaihan para sa Kalayaan (Kaisa Ka).
This list outlines economic sectors or industries which are not granted 100 percent foreign investments. It is routinely amended by Malacañang.
“New investment areas are (to be) made available for foreigners like direct hiring of workers, entry of foreigners in certain professions like education, securing construction and repair contracts for local infrastructure projects, businesses in public service, culture, and production and milling of agricultural products except rice and corn and retail trade,” she said.
WPL chair Pete Pinlac said the Duterte government signed the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrants Workers in the recent summit, but it has not yet addressed what he described as the dismal state of local wages and workers’ welfare.
“Now with the passage of the Tax Reform and Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Bill in the Senate, a push for the PUV phaseout, and other neoliberal policies, we anticipate that the tax hikes will burden the workers, especially the poor,” Pinlac said.
In a statement, Suarez said, “Anticipating opposition to his neoliberal agenda, Duterte will be quick to quell any sign of dissent or criticism to his bid for unfettered exercise of power, beyond that which is accorded to him by the Constitution — whether through so-called rebolusyong Duterte or (by) bastardizing the charter.”
“Let us not (allow) Duterte to do a Marcos on us Filipinos, this change will only benefit him and his cohorts and imperil the welfare of the rest of us,” she said.