Duterte signs off on Senate Bill 2094 lifting 40% limit of foreign ownership of telcos

23 Mar 2022

The Philippines’ outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte has reportedly signed off on Senate Bill 2094, amending the Public Services Act, to allow foreigners to wholly own companies in critical industries such as the telecommunications sector. With presidential elections set to take place on 9 May, Duterte claimed the amendment would ‘improve the delivery of essential services’, although sceptics fear that the move presents a risk to national security – particularly involving firms that are partly Chinese owned – such as DITO Telecommunity. Until now foreign ownership in such sectors has been limited to 40% but the president is cited as saying the easing of restrictions will attract more global investment to the country, in turn improving services and modernising ‘several sectors of public service’ to ‘improve the delivery of essential services’. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OSCE), for one, sees the move towards greater liberalisation as favourable, but some remain wary of the national security risks – not least given the Philippines’ ongoing dispute with China over territorial waters.

Philippines, DITO Telecommunity Corp