Foreigners may soon take full ownership of public services in the PH

Yesterday, the House of Representatives of the Philippines approved House Bill No. 78 on Second Reading which amends Commonwealth Act No. 146, otherwise known as the “Public Service Act,” the primary law after the Philippine Constitution that governs public services in the Philippines which was passed way back in 1936.

The 1987 Constitution’s requirement is that at least 60% of public utility enterprises’ capital stock must be owned by Filipino citizens or corporations. House Bill No. 78 delineates ‘public service’ from ‘public utility’ which covers the distribution and transmission of electricity, the water pipeline distribution system and the sewerage pipeline system.

On the other hand, ‘public service’ in HB 78 covers “common carrier, railroad, street railway, subway motor vehicle, ice refrigeration plant, irrigation system, marine railways, wired or wireless communications systems; wired or wireless broadcasting stations; freight or carrier services, steamboats ferries and warcraft engaged in the transportation of passengers or freight, gas, electric light, heat, and power water supply and power, petroleum, and sewerage system, among others.”

Meanwhile, ‘public service’ in the 84-year-old law includes every person who “may own, operate, manage, or control in the Philippines, for hire or compensation, with general or limited clientele, whether permanent, occasional or accidental, and done for general business purposes, any common carrier, railroad, street railway, traction railway, sub-way motor vehicle, either for freight or passenger, or both with or without fixed route and whether maybe its classification, freight or carrier service of any class, express service, steamboat or steamship line, pontine, ferries, and watercraft, engaged in the transportation of passengers or freight or both, shipyard, marine railways, marine repair shop, [warehouse] wharf or dock, ice plant, ice-refrigeration plant, canal, irrigation system, gas, electric light, heat, and power water supply, and power, petroleum, sewerage system, wired or wireless communications system, wired or wireless broadcasting stations and other similar public services.”

With this amendment, full ownership of public services in the Philippines may soon be open to foreigners if the Senate and the President also approves.

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