Holding foreign businesses accountable

Holding foreign businesses accountable

Oct 21, 2023, 5:28 AM
Fernan Angeles

Fernan Angeles


FOR the longest time, many are living on the impression that slavery is a thing of the past – but not in the case of a foreign telecommunications firm, which is now a subject of a lawsuit filed by a Filipino entrepreneur who was made to work for three years only to end up collecting almost nothing.

In a 29-page document filed at the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Filipino businessman engaged in system integration, structured cabling, civil works, and electrical services accused Ericsson

Telecommunications Inc. of non-payment of some P54 million for the highly-technical work commissioned by Smart Communications to the Manila-based Sweden company.

The Filipino contractor claimed in his affidavit obtained from the National Prosecution Service Office that the accused commissioned them to undertake a long list of projects in malls, hospitals, business centers and schools with whom Ericsson Philippines had contracts.

After completion of the commissioned projects spanning from 2020 onwards, Ericsson allegedly refused to pay despite an existing agreement designating the complainant as its sub-contractor.

While civil lawsuits are not new in the country, this case is a manifestation of the government’s inability to protect the Filipinos from con artists in the guise of what is referred to by the government as “foreign investor.”

For one, Ericsson does not seem to give a damn about Republic Act 5455, which requires companies owned in whole or in part by foreigners, to contribute to the sound and balanced development of the national company on a self-sustaining basis.

While RA11659 allows 100 percent foreign ownership of telecom firms, the law does not legalize swindling. Hence, Ericsson should be held accountable both in the civil and criminal aspects.

Under this law, the President has the power to prohibit or suspend any foreign investments in public service upon the recommendation and review of a state agency as well as restrictions on foreign state-owned enterprises owning capital stock in a public utility or critical infrastructure.

Moreover, there is a reciprocal clause in the Act that prevents foreign nationals from owning a majority share in critical infrastructure unless their country accords the same to the Philippines. In the case of Sweden, Filipinos are now allowed to fully own foreign companies there.

Named respondents in the criminal case are foreign corporate bosses Martin Wiktorin, Jesmin Ehsan, Johan Kvist and Wee Tiong Ng. Estafa charges were also filed against Emerson Clemena, Jose Michael Hernal, Charis Heidi Ibarra and Roderick Reodica – all of whom are holding office at the Ericsson’s Bonifacio Global City office in Taguig City.

What seemed striking is that this foreign company has the audacity to play con tricks on Filipinos even in our very own backyard. It is also rather absurd to limit hefty contracts to these foreign companies (including Ericsson) who are just tapping Filipino sub-contractors to do the work for them.

Why not push Filipino contractors instead of these foreign companies? Pinoy muna sana.

#Promdiaries #FernanAngeles #HoldingForeignBusinessesAccountable #DOJ #Ericsson #Smart #OpinYonColumn #OpinYon #WeTakeAStand

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