Congress rubberstamps Bill to allow full foreign ownership of telcos

3 Feb 2022

The Philippines’ House of Representatives and the Senate yesterday (2 February) ratified Senate Bill 2094, opening up industries to foreign investors, including for public services such as telecommunications providers, by amending the 85-year-old law that caps foreign ownership of public utilities to 40%. The proposal will now pass to President Rodrigo Duterte for approval into law, Bloomberg reports, noting that it could herald massive change in one of the world’s ‘most restrictive economies’.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that Senate Bill 2094 passed through the House of Representatives back in March 2020, and was approved in the Senate by a margin of 19 to three in favour, in December 2021. The measure seeks to clarify the definitions between the terms ‘public utility’ and ‘public service’, noting that under the 1987 Constitution, only corporations that are at least 60% owned by Filipinos will currently be given the franchise, certificate, and authorisation to operate as a public utility. Going forward, telcos could now be considered as a public service and, as such, ‘no longer bound by restrictions on foreign ownership’.