Nograles Bill on cha-cha: politically deplorable, economically harmful

Mar. 05, 2009

Nograles Bill on cha-cha: politically deplorable, economically harmful

House Resolution 737, which Speaker Prospero Nograles is reportedly maneuvering to have approved at the Lower House, is both politically deplorable and economically destructive.

Pushing for the approval of HR 737 betrays how the administration is rushing to force the legal process of charter change (Cha-cha), to beat the 2010 deadline when Pres. Arroyo’s term ends. It is politically deplorable because, although supposedly about allowing foreign ownership of land, the bill aims to pave the way for the eventual insertion of other amendments that will allow Pres. Gloria Arroyo to remain in power beyond 2010.

It is also economically destructive because removing the Constitutional restriction on ownership of land by aliens effectively gives foreign investors full authority to exploit and profit from the country’s land and land-based resources. This is particularly unjust with more than half of Filipino peasants still not even owning the land they till. Moreover, the country’s resources should principally be used for the benefit of Filipinos, and not foreigners who have no stake in real domestic development.

Allowing foreign ownership of land goes against national interest. Taken with the short-sighted and self-serving profit interests of foreign investors, this would likely mean the environmentally unsustainable use of land and resources. As the country’s historical experience has shown, mineral, forestry and fishery resources have been exploited with scant benefits for the domestic economy. Having foreigners come in with their capital and financing will also unnecessarily drive up domestic agricultural, housing and commercial land prices.

Foreign land ownership in itself is neither necessary nor sufficient, while also raising the danger of land speculation and greater foreign control of the domestic economy.

The current global economic and financial crisis refutes the neoliberal globalization model that supports all the arguments for removing the nationalist economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Pushing to further liberalize the economy through Cha-cha to bring economic development is thus a weak argument, as much as it is a desperate effort to extend Pres. Arroyo’s stay in power.

Written by IBON Media

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