MANILA, Jan 14 (Mabuhay) — A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Wednesday said allowing exemptions to land ownership by foreigners is one way to attract foreign capital and help the economy recover from the adverse effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo said the Constitutional provision prohibiting land ownership by foreigners could be amended by adding the clause “unless otherwise provided by law”, which would allow Congress to qualify permissible land ownership. 

“Bakit natin pipigilin ang pag-aari ng lupa ng isang dayuhan kung kaya naman nyang palaguhin ang lupa at mag-empleyo ng maraming Pilipino? Pero kung papayagan natin ito, dapat lagyan ng safeguards (Why should we prohibit land ownership by a foreigner when he can increase the land and employ many Filipinos? But if we allow this, we should put up safeguards),” Quimbo said in a statement.

Quimbo said in other countries, such as Thailand, the general rule is that foreigners are not allowed to own land but there are exceptions where they are allowed to do so for residential purposes, or for commercial activities in tourist spots, or for business purposes within economic zones.

“Baka pwedeng tulad nito ang gawing modelo ng Pilipinas. (We can replicate this model in the Philippines) We can allow land ownership by foreigners only for specific purposes like manufacturing or tourism. We can disallow the purchase by foreigners of land for purposes of investment or speculation,” she said.

Quimbo said the clause, “unless otherwise provided for by law”, is a necessary amendment to the economic provisions in Article XII of the Constitution.

“Congress needs the flexibility to debate and discuss and properly calibrate the restrictions and make them more competitive for foreign investments at least in the Asean and more responsive to an ever-changing economy,” she added.

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments resumed its hearing to tackle Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 2 authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, which seeks to amend restrictive provisions of the Constitution by adding the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to sections of Articles XII, XIV and XVI. (MNS)

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