Solon pushes for limited land ownership for foreigners

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 13) — A lawmaker is pushing for an amendment to the Philippine Constitution to allow limited land ownership of foreigners that is seen to help generate more jobs and boost economic growth.

Tayo ay nahuhuli na sa karera [We are already lagging behind] so we need to do extra things. We need to relax our rules and allow exemptions to land ownership by foreigners and this is one way to attract foreign capital,” Marikina Representative Stella Quimbo said during the first hearing of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments on the Resolution of Both Houses 2.

Quimbo said the creation of jobs is also a way to address the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that domestic capital is not enough, she said, the government should come up with ways to attract foreign businesses to locate in the country to boost local economic activity.

The lawmaker also said that by eliminating restrictions, competition in the market will be enhanced, leading to lower prices that would benefit the Filipino consumer.

Under the Constitution, foreign citizens or corporations may acquire real-estate property by partnering with Filipinos who should own 60% of the asset. Foreigners may also lease land for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years.

RBH 2 aims to relax these limitations on foreign ownership of land, as well as in educational institutions, public utilities, and mass media firms.

Committee vice chair Lorenz Defensor said introducing amendments to provisions on land ownership should be done with caution since this can be abused. This also boils down to the election of the right government leaders who will not take advantage of such amendment if it will be passed, he added.

Quimbo said that if ever this will be adopted, it is important to specify the limitations or restrictions to ensure that this will not be used to one’s advantage.

Citing the case of Thailand, she said the general rule is that foreigners are not allowed to own land but there are exceptions that include acquisitions for residential purposes, commercial activities in tourist spots, or businesses purposes in economic zones.