as promised, three essays on why deleting the economic provisions of the constitution is a bad bad bad idea. the first is a malaya editorial. the second is by economist alejandro lichauco for the daily tribune. and the third by william esposo for the philippine star.
Should foreigners be allowed to own land? It is a good topic for a college debate, but hardly an issue that should be forcibly thrust into the top of the national agenda when the country is confronted with a war in the South, unabated corruption and a hostile economic environment not seen since the foreign exchange crisis of 1983.
Speaker Prospero Nograles’ Resolution 737 is exactly that, a proposal to allow foreigners to own land. For that purpose, he is pressing for an amendment to the 1987 Constitution, a process that could potentially inflame violence in the land given widespread public opposition to it.
But let’s give the devil a run for his money. Let’s humor Nograles and tackle his proposed constitutional change on its own merit.
Proponents argue that lifting constitutional limitation on foreign land ownership will make the country more attractive to investors. Possibly. The truth is foreigners can do good business here without owning land. They can lease land for 50 years, extendable for another 25 years. Seventy-five years is beyond most businessmen’s planning horizon.
Manufacturers, in fact, tend to base their operations in export processing zones. Business process outsourcing companies – the call centers – rent office spaces. Those in other services, most importantly financial, are just tenants in those high-rises carrying their corporate logos and names.
In the light of the current global economic crisis, owning a piece of Philippine real estate is the least of foreign investors’ considerations. The decision for many of them with exposure in the Philippines is whether to stay put or pull out stakes and pour all their resources and attention into keeping their home operations afloat.
We have the Philamlife as an example. Philamlife is a fully owned subsidiary of the world’s biggest insurance company, AIG. Philamlife, the biggest in the local insurance industry in terms of assets and profits, does not own a single patch of Philippine real estate.
AIG is now selling Philamlife, not because the latter is losing but because the proceeds from the sale are earmarked for helping bail out the floundering mother company in the United States.
That’s the kind of problem with foreign investors the Philippines is facing, not the issue of land ownership.
It is now generally recognized that the economic slowdown in the United States – along with the rest of the developed world – will take its full toll next year and the recovery will be slow and painful after that. So why prepare for something that won’t happen – foreign investors taking renewed interest in developing markets – in the next three years?
Land ownership is a Cha-Cha Trojan Horse. If itis allowed to breach the wall, Gloria Arroyo’s term will be extended. Or she will end up as prime minister under a parliamentary form of government. Our democratic institutions will see the equivalent to the sacking of Troy.”
Cha-cha offers entire RP to foreign ownership by Alejandro Lichauco
Pass Charter change (Cha-cha) and forget all about Filipinos owning the Philippines, or whatever remains of it to Filipinos.
For the principal objective of Cha-cha is to throw open the entire national territory to foreign ownership. This on the theory that only by doing so can the nation prosper and get out of the poverty trap.
That, of course, was the theory of the political dumbbells in 1946 when they forced what is known as the Parity Amendment down the throat of Filipinos. We were then a people laid waste by war and the dumbbells thought that the only way we could recover and rise was to eliminate the provision in the Constitution limiting foreign ownership of the country’s land and natural resources to 40 percent. The Constitution then allowed foreigners only 40 percent ownership of enterprises having to do with natural resources and land ownership. On the theory that the said constitutional restriction was discouraging national development – a theory espoused by Washington and accepted by Filipino political dumbbells – the incumbent administration then engineered the so-called Parity Amendment which lifted the constitutional restriction for the benefit of US investors and citizens, thereby placing US citizens and corporations at par or in parity with Filipinos insofar as land ownership and ownership of natural resources was concerned. The proponents of the Parity Amendment promised progress and immeasurable prosperity.
What this nation got instead was the Huk rebellion and outright civil war between those who favored Parity and those who saw in it a fundamental breach of the original intent of the founding fathers of the Constitution. That intention was to ensure that the Philippines shall at all times and forever be owned by Filipinos and by nobody else.
Four years after passage of the Parity Amendment, this nation was in full-blown crisis. The country had gone bankrupt and what we had instead of prosperity were poverty and a full-blown civil war.
That and much more is what the proponents of Cha-cha intend. They intend to open up the entire national territory to every type of foreign investor – Americans, Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans, Malaysians and you name them. And you don’t have to be a grade school graduate to figure out what happens to the Philippines and the Filipinos. The entire Philippines will eventually end up under the ownership of foreigners and Filipinos will end up like the original Indian inhabitants of America: Deprived of their land by strangers and forced into what is known as “Indian reservations.” Only, unlike the Indians, there won’t be any “reservation” reserved for Filipinos.
If you don’t believe that the primary objective of the Cha-cha proponents in the House is to offer the Philippines for sale to all and every specie of foreign investor then read what Speaker Prospero Nograles had to say. He said, according to a story carried by the Dec. 5 issue of the Inquirer that: “Amending the Constitution’s economic provisions was the most urgent demand of the times in light of a possible global recession.”
So there you have it. From the Speaker himself, we are informed that offering the entire Philippines to foreign ownership is the administration’s answer to the global crisis.
But Cha-cha for the purpose of eliminating the restriction on foreign ownership of the Philippines had been a long time project of certain powerful elements in this country who had pushed for Cha-cha long before the global recession descended on us. We had a movement for Cha-cha during the administrations of FVR and Joseph Estrada. That movement continues to this day under the administration of GMA.
But are you as a Filipino prepared to see this country turned over to foreigners, lock stock and barrel? Are you as a Filipino prepared to see the Filipino treated eventually as the American Indians were treated by the White colonizers?
Are you as a Filipino prepared to see the price of land, already sky-high driven up way beyond the sky? Because that’s what will happen when Cha-cha passes. Every foreign investor in the world – from Japan and China to the US, Europe, Latin America and even Africa will be free to bid for every piece and comer of land in this country.
And do you think that will settle the problem of poverty?”
Why the biggest crooks are pushing for Cha cha economic reform by William M. Esposo
The ambassador of an important European country shared with me this observation about our country: “More than anywhere else, over here the obvious is not what it seems to be.”
Ambassadors should be the most knowledgeable when it comes to seeing through diplomatic facades. Behind the smiles and polite answers they receive, they are trained to spot the truth and recognize the real situation prevailing in the country where they are assigned.
The layers of deception that one has to wade through here could well apply to the so-called economic reform being peddled with Charter change (Cha cha) in the light of this alarming piece of information that was shared with me recently by a national security and intelligence local expert.
Essentially, what this national security and intelligence expert told me was this – some of the country’s biggest plunderers, very possibly in league with jueteng and drug lords, are pushing for the proposed economic reform in the planned Charter change which pertains to allowing foreigners to own land in the Philippines.
The source said that many of the legislators as well as the other persons representing various sectors who are pushing for the proposed economic reform are not even aware of the insidious agenda and the cast of police characters in this play.
At first, I thought that the idea was preposterous. That is because I failed to see the connection between plunderers, jueteng and drug lords and foreigners or foreign firms being allowed to own land here.
However, when the information source started elaborating – it did strike a live wire and started to make sense. What follows is what the national security and intelligence expert outlined.
1. The recent collapse of Lehman Brothers and the other big financial institutions panicked those with big hoards being stashed abroad. In fact, several opinion writers have mentioned (though this remains to be confirmed) that a favorite usual suspect lost over P20 billion in the Lehman Brothers collapse.
2. The financial team of a big plunderer felt that their hoard was perhaps better placed here in the Philippines through front companies organized and registered overseas. They are more familiar with the terrain here compared to the prevailing situation overseas where they do not know anymore which financial institution is still stable and won’t collapse.
3. Their plan also calls for taking advantage of the negative effects of the global financial crisis and buy blue chip Philippine companies that may be sold at a bargain price. They will follow the dictum that the best time to invest is when there is blood on the streets.
4. Furthermore, their hoard, if invested here under front companies that have been organized and registered overseas, will be welcomed and even extended the usual incentives that are offered to foreign investors.
5. Having been organized and registered overseas, these front companies will not be accessible to local graft and corruption crusaders.
6. Owning some of the best blue chip firms in the Philippines will give them respectability and economic clout which they can translate to political muscle.
Now that explanation got your Chair Wrecker really thinking. If you try to see things as these plunderers, jueteng and drug lords would likely see it from their point of need under the prevailing global financial turmoil – the plan would seem very logical and appealing.
In a previous column, I disagreed with the proposal to open land ownership to foreigners. I felt that with their wealth the Chinese and South Koreans can end up buying the bulk of choice real estate here and raise the price to a level few Filipinos can afford. Already we’ve been getting reports that front companies are buying a lot of land through Filipino dummies – tolerated by the government.
Besides, what will attract foreigners to invest here is not the privilege to own Philippine land. It is good governance, the rule of law, a predictable judiciary, peace and order, a climate of industrial peace, infrastructure that is at par with ASEAN competitors, affordable energy and political stability. None of these will be delivered by the proposed Cha cha economic reform. All these can be delivered under the present Constitution if the present Constitution is followed by a competent and honest government.
Allowing foreigners to own land here will not make them overlook that we do not have good governance, the rule of law, a predictable judiciary, peace and order, a climate of industrial peace, infrastructure that is at par with ASEAN competitors, affordable energy and political stability. Offering foreign investors the privilege to own land is like offering to donate your liver to one who needs a kidney transplant.
China and Vietnam do not allow foreign investors to own land but they get the bulk of foreign investors in Asia. There is a good lesson to learn there – something our policy makers have not yet figured out.
The greatest tragedy that can hit Filipinos now is to expect salvation with that proposed economic reform – only to end up with our economy being controlled by those who plundered and pillaged our country and those who operated jueteng and sold our children illegal drugs.
Beware the Greeks giving gifts warned Cassandra when the Trojan Horse was offered. The Trojans did not heed their princess-seer and became an extinct nation.
Filipinos should beware when the greedy offer us economic reform.
If all there is to solving poverty is to put up entire impoverished nations for sale, then why haven’t countries as poor and even poorer than the Philippines offered themselves for sale they say our Cha-cha proponents are offering the Philippines for sale?
Vietnam has a poverty problem and so do the Indonesians. But any government in those countries which proposes opening up their countries to foreigners the way our Cha-cha proponents do will wind up in the garbage can either for their stupidity or high treason.
The first Cha-cha, to repeat, was the Parity Amendment of 1946. And that Cha-cha didn’t only fail to solve the poverty problem but in fact made it worse and paved the way to the communist-led civil war, which would torment the country for an entire decade.”