No complete realization of either is practicable. We must understand the real alternatives clearly. Therefore, the choice should not be between a complete suppression of international trade on the one hand and its complete freedom on the other. Rather we shall look at the restrictions present in status quo which walls our path to development.
In the context of constitutional reform, the development of the country necessitates a more positive definition of economic nationalism. It is evident that our economic policy has longed emphasized economic nationalism. Based on our laws, our strand of economic nationalism emphasizes the fear of exploitation by foreigners. In fact, from the time of Quezon until present we have adopted a system of laws, starting with our Constitution, reserving to the state the role of providing cover and protection for the Filipino, defining his exclusive rights over others. For a long time now, we have constricted the degrees of economic freedom with which we should have maximized to solve poverty, and other challenges of our time. Our Constitution and other laws, such as Retail Nationalization Law, Anti-Dummy Law, Board of Investment, etc., work as barriers for development. There were times in our history when our leaders tried to amend these “barrier laws” and change our circle; however, as we always go back to the ultranationalism stance we have, we always stop the reconstruction of our economic development. Our economy has been always halfway to the development, impaired by the citizenship requirement in economic participation found in the Constitution and other subsisting laws; therefore, we must amend these provisions.
If our nation continues to face an ever increasing task to overcome poverty, the blame for the severity of the challenge is not on foreigners, but on our leaders and us.
To briefly historically analyze our economic situation, it all started in our 1935 Constitution when our forefathers incorporated the citizenship requirement regarding economic participation of foreigners and foreign capital in our economic development. Right after, the consequence of our action led foreigners, specifically Americans to become cautious of their accumulated capital and land in the country; therefore, passing parity amendments and Bell Trade Agreements, which commenced our “Filipino First”. Our enactment of “barrier laws” continued as the rhetoric of economic nationalism grown; Import trading was Filipinized in conjunction with import controls; the Central Bank and General Banking Acts were passed, so the subject of foreign banks was left to banking regulation; Retail Trade Nationalization law was enacted; and less dramatic restrictive laws were placed on in the laws on procurement, on public utilities, interisland shipping, transport, on professional practice and employment.
As an effect, our external market growth was hampered. Firstly, through the General Banking Acts no foreign banks could be admitted into the country. Foreign banks operating in the country were allowed to continue, but the operations of these banks were restricted to their main head offices. This decision severely restrained the growth of bank financing especially in international trade, since the domestic banks created were largely new, undercapitalized, and inexperienced. Secondly, the Retail Nationalization Law caused one avenue for future export growth in industry to be closed. It also encouraged monopolization inside the country. The public debate on this law emphasized the need for the small Filipino retailer and the poor sari-sari vendor the opportunity to grow. It was directed mainly against the Chinese control of retail trade, but it had significant impact on large-scale distribution in which American interests were still present. What it did was to reserve to citizens a very profitable...