Philippines: Grace Poe says will relax curbs on foreign investment in media, utilities

'If our defence is strong then we will not be bullied as easily as we are being bullied now'

Philippines presidential candidate Grace Poe has said she will relax restrictions on foreign ownership of local media companies if she came to power.

Poe, who campaigns on a pro-reform plank, said she keeps focus on creating jobs and building infrastructure.

Poe said there is a need to engage China constructively and that she will strengthen the Philippine military in the face of challenges it faces in South China Sea.

"If our defence is strong then we will not be bullied as easily as we are being bullied now," she said in reference to the increasing aggression of China in the dispute waters.

Regulatory reforms

Foreign ownership in media and utilities has been a matter of debate in the Philippines. Currently foreign entities are not allowed to own media companies and they are entitled to only 40 percent ownership in public utilities.

Poe, who is senator currently, said she will look at regulatory reforms in these sectors if she is elected president.

"Within my first month in office, it will be part of the agenda, the economic amendments of our constitution," Poe said.

"Why not allow more foreign ownership for as long as they employ Filipinos and there is also a technology transfer," Poe asked a business forum in Manila, Reuters reported.

"I am not for land ownership but I am for media, for certain utilities, for academic institutions and also for the medical profession."

Poe, who is ahead of vice President Jejomar Binay in opinion polls, said she supported the lifting of bank secrecy laws and championed signing free trade agreements with other countries.

Last week the supreme court reversed an order by the country's election commission that disqualified Poe from running for President.