July 19, 2012
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today led protesters to a march in Mendiola, just days before President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address. The group called on the President to once and for all put an end to Charter change talks.
“On July 23, Aquino will have an opportunity to speak before Congress and put an end to talks regarding Charter change. The people oppose the removal of protectionist provisions of the Constitution because this would mean opening up our economy to wholesale plunder by foreign corporations,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“Aquino should speak in unequivocal terms and tell the House Speaker and the Senate President, both of whom have expressed support for Charter change, to end any and all efforts at revising the Constitution,” Reyes added.
Bayan observed that allies of Aquino in the Senate and Lower House have been aggressively pushing for the lifting of restrictions on foreign ownership and investments that are currently enshrined in the Constitution. While the Aquino administration has said it does not see Cha-cha as a priority, it has not put a decisive stop to efforts to amend the Charter. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte are set to talk with Aquino on the matter.
“There may be some role-playing involved here, wherein the President will appear disinterested in Charter change for now, but will eventually give in to the ‘clamor’ by legislators. We believe that there is a growing consensus among the ruling elite regarding foreign ownership of land and foreign investments. This will have disastrous effects on the economy,” Reyes said.
Bayan said that the charter change move seems to be timed with bilateral and multilateral economic agreements being sought by the Philippines with Western powers. The group said that it was concerned with the efforts of bigger economies like the US and the EU to open up the Philippine economy and squeeze more profits. The group also said that Charter change will have far-reaching repercussions in the mining industry as this would allow foreign mining firms 100% ownership of land, including ancestral lands of indigenous peoples.
“In a time when other economies are moving towards protectionism after the crisis wrought by neo-liberalism, the Philippines is gearing towards opening up its economy even more. It does not make sense at all. Our lawmakers believe that our economic salvation lies with increased foreign investments and 100% foreign ownership of land, utilities and other services. This kind of economic treason should be vehemently opposed,” Reyes said. ###