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Senator Francis Tolentino has raised national security concerns about a proposal which would enable foreign companies to fully control and operate toll highways in the Philippines.

Tolentino stressed in a statement on Wednesday 4th August that toll roads “are the blood vessels of the Philippine economy, encompass our way of life facilitate the mobility of people, goods and services ”.

In his interpellation on Senate Law No. 2094, which aims to amend Commonwealth Act No. 146 or the Public Service Act (PSA), Tolentino warned against allowing foreign companies to take control of the country’s highways “National security implications” could have long-term. “

” We are tiptoeing into some national security landmines, so to speak, “Tolentino said during their plenary session on Tuesday 3rd August.

SB 2094 tried to enumerate public utilities that are constitutionally subject to foreign ownership restrictions. Only companies that are 60 percent owned by Filipinos must receive the franchise and operate as a public utility.

The bill defines the transmission and distribution of electricity as a public utility; and water distribution systems and sewer systems.

Any person or entity that is not classified as a public service is considered a public service but is still subject to regulation by the relevant authorities.

The Senate Minority Chairman, Franklin Drilon, Co-sponsoring the bill, said toll roads are considered a public service.

But a “dangerous” scenario, Tolentino said, is if foreign state-owned companies are allowed to build and operate highways that cross military facilities and facilities or run near vital infrastructure such as dams and power plants.

He also alluded to the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China and mentioned that Chinese companies may be interested in toll road projects.

“Any major blockage or closure of Toll roads would effectively derail the economy and cripple the government’s disaster and emergency response, “added Tolentino.

The Senator of the Administration said that the construction and operation of highways should remain in the hands of majority-owned Filipino companies.

Senator Grace Poe, chairwoman of the Senate Public Services Committee and also a sponsor of SB 2094, said Tuesday that they will consider Tolentino’s concerns and possible changes. However, she claimed that the bill contains safety precautions.

Earlier, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto had also expressed his reservation, as the bill did not list telecommunications and common network operators as public utilities, thus allowing 100 percent foreign participation.

Ref: https://mb.com.ph