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Cha-cha will let foreigners grab our lands

opinion / Columns
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As I See It

Cha-cha will let foreigners grab our lands

/ 03:46 AM October 17, 2011

Members of Congress are pushing for a bicameral constituent assembly to amend the Constitution in spite of the opposition of President Aquino who said that Charter change is not a priority of his administration. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Sen. Franklin Drilon want to talk to him during the congressional recess obviously to twist his arm to support the Cha-cha move or, at least, to not oppose it.

That makes Cha-cha, if it materializes, even more dangerous to the country and its people. Why are the legislators so pushy about amending the Constitution at this time? Because they have dark ideas. It is, therefore, imperative that the President and the people oppose Cha-cha at this time. There should be no Cha-cha while the present crop of legislators are in office. They cannot be trusted.

They say, of course, that only the economic provisions will be amended. And on top of the list of their proposed amendments is the ban on the ownership of lands by foreigners and the 40-percent limit on foreign ownership of public utilities.

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The framers of the Constitution have very good reasons for putting these provisions in. Since the Spanish regime, there has been a “hunger” for land in the Philippines. Filipinos want to own their own land, and they are willing to die for it. Read your history. All the pocket rebellions and the Philippine Revolution itself stemmed from this hunger. The agrarian reform program is an attempt to address this hunger.

Even today, the NPA and the Muslim rebellions have, at their core, this hunger to own a land. Even the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, owned by President Aquino’s clan, are willing to die for the land they are tilling and living in, despite the fact that they share in the income of the hacienda.

The millions of squatters are also crying for a little piece of heaven on earth—land. But members of their Congress now want to amend our Constitution to allow foreigners to grab land from them.

The excuse, of course, is supposedly to attract foreign investors. This is a lot of bull! Foreign companies can lease or rent lands for their factories and offices for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years. That’s practically a lifetime. It is already like owning the land—and at a much cheaper price.

In fact, many foreign companies are at present operating successfully and profitably with leased land. So why do our Filipino legislators, supposedly the representatives of the people, want to sell to foreigners land that their constituents hunger for? This smacks of treason.

What we will attract are not investors but opportunists, much like the carpetbaggers that invaded the American South after the Civil War. Even in America, the settlers from Europe grabbed the lands of the American Indians, who were then confined in reservations. And America is such a big country.

On the other hand, the Philippines is such a small country already bursting at the seams with a rapidly growing population. Ask Filipinos what they want most and they will answer that they want to own their own home and their own farm. Many of them are slaving day and night, hoping to save enough money to buy land. Only a few of them realize their dreams.

Now our traitorous representatives want to open up the Philippines so foreigners can own land that rightfully belongs only to Filipinos. That will jack up the price of real estate here so high that Filipinos cannot afford them anymore. The farmers and teachers cannot compete with the wealth of foreigners. The Filipinos will be landless in their own land. Kawawa naman tayo.

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Worse, these foreigners may be using dirty money to launder them here, as is being done at this very moment by companies owned by foreigners but using Filipino dummies. The Anti-Money Laundering Council should be working but it is practically useless.

It is bad enough that Filipino developers are converting farms and rural villages into giant shopping malls. Now our representatives want to add foreigners to the hordes of landgrabbers.

Then there is the 40-percent limit on foreign ownership of public utilities like telecommunications, power and water. There is a very good reason for this. The framers of our Constitution want the all-important utilities to remain in the hands of Filipinos.

But even now, a giant telecommunications firm has violated this 40-percent limit and is operating in violation of the Constitution and a Supreme Court decision, with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) seeing everything but doing nothing. Obviously, this corporation would like nothing better than to amend the Constitution to remove this bar to foreign ownership of Filipino utilities.

What would happen to us if this limit is removed from the Constitution? The government and the whole population would be held hostage by foreigners who would own the public utilities.

We can see that happening now. The Philippine government sold its controlling shares to Petron to the Arab Saudi-Aramco, in spite of the fact that fuel is very important to any country. Considering the amount of the sale, you can imagine the kickback, or “commission,” that went to certain pockets.

Because of that sale, all our oil companies—Petron, Shell and Caltex—are now foreign-owned and we are all held hostage by them as they continuously and consistently raise fuel prices with the government unable or not willing to do anything.

If the Philippine shares had not been sold to the Saudis, we would at least have a Filipino corporation to hold back the price increases of the two other foreign-owned companies.

But the representatives of our people have more dark thoughts for wanting a Cha-cha. That will be exposed in future columns.

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TAGS: 40-percent limit, charter change, foreign ownership, President Benigno Aquino III, Sen. Franklin Drilon, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte
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