do not delete (economic provisions)

verrrry interesting that it took that angry (complete with expletives) december 12 multisectoral anti-chacha rally to provoke former leftist now gma apologist-loyalist alex magno into revealing the real score behind the arroyo administration’s kulit campaign for charter change.   apparently, suko na siya (sila), sort of.

Yesterday’s march was an event of bigotry. It was undertaken in the spirit of rejecting even a mere discussion of proposals for Charter change. It is act trapped in the presumption of malice. It does not enrich our democratic culture.

I did say, in one televised interview, that I have lost hope constitutional reform will ever happen in my lifetime. A freshly-elected administration has no incentive to surrender its electoral victory to Charter change. A sunset administration, when it does initiate a constitutional reform process, will always be suspect.

We saw that in the case of Pirma at the end of the Ramos period. We see that today.”

so.   ang solusyon ni propesor magno?   kalimutan na ang change from presidential to parliamentary, kalimutan na ang ambisyon ni gma na maging prime minister, gayon din ang ambisyon ng mga representatante na maging members of a unicameral parliament.    pero, wow, huwag na huwag kakalimutan ang economic provisions na dapat daw i-delete na from the constitution.

In one recent public forum organized by civic groups sympathetic to constitutional reform, I suggested that if there is anything that is politically feasible it has to be narrowing down the debate to only the economic provisions in the 1987 Charter.

Forget about reforming our institutional arrangement. That will always be divisive because there will always be vested interests finding themselves on opposite sides of any political question. The Senate will always oppose any shift to a unicameral assembly. Oligarchic interests will always oppose a shift away from the presidential system because any other option will be a lot harder for them to control.

The only possible aspect of the constitutional reform agenda where some amount of consensus may be forged is that section that “constitutionalizes” our nation’s economic policy.

That section is anomalous to begin with. A constitution should never prescribe economic policy. Economic policy ought to be an evolving thing, shaped by the continuing process of legislation and policy-making.

In the scenario I propose, the House majority could simply pass a resolution deleting the provisions in the 1987 Constitution that preempt economic policy-making. With a limited scope, the Senate has to agree with the revision. No one, except the ideologically blinded, wants our economic policy to be fixed like religious dogma.

I call this the “Delete Option.”

Because the provisions to be removed will not be replaced, there is no need to debate wording. The debate on economic policy, henceforth, will occur where it must: in both chambers of Congress.

It is a simply, surgical operation that will not disturb the institutional arrangement. It will not endanger the political ambitions of those who now so vociferously oppose constitutional reform.

One might call it Constitutional Appendectomy.

The necessary reform of our economic architecture has been delayed because deleting the economic provisions has been tied up with the other messy political issues in the Charter change agenda. There is an immediate benefit in liberalizing the economic architecture the soonest to help us cope with the global recession.”

it’s a whole lot of crap, the assertion that deleting the economic provisions will help us cope with the global recession.   hindi totoo.   it will only open us up completely and absolutely to the free-market kind of speculative capitalism that brought down wall street and the american economy with it, and we are expected to lie back and enjoy it.

and who really stands to benefit from magno’s delete option?   why, the arroyos of course.   check out patricio mangubat’s The fiefdom of A:

Sources within the palace told me that the real reason behind the lifting of these economic provisions is not to really grow the economy. No. In fact, if we think about it, the reverse would happen. If we allow foreign ownership of land and property in the Philippines, the profit that they will be getting from using these lands would definitely be taken outside the country anyway. The local economy would not benefit from it. It would just be like what Mike Defensor did when his Chinese-owned mining company bagged that multi-billion contract to mine a mountain full of gold in Zambales.

The real story is the purpose of the establishment of a Hongkong-based holding company. Allegedly, this holding company which is named after a reputable historical figure “Ashmore” is owned by the First Golfer and his associates. Ashmore is an off-shore investment firm which was built solely to be the conduit between foreign companies wanting to own lands in the Philippines and a real estate firm called “Alphaland”, which, again, is owned by a hotelier associate of the First Golfer.

The insider said that what the First Golfer and his associates intend to do is, make profit selling Philippineproperty to these foreigners using Ashmore and that Alphaland will be the authorized seller of these properties. They intend to get billions out of this.

What the First Golfer and his associates intend to do is monopolize the selling of prime Philippine property (including agricultural lands) and make a quick buck from it. Bad? Not entirely except that this smucks of bad odor and immoral since most of those behind this scheme are living inside the palace.

And you know who is helping the First Golfer and his associates build a veritable fiefdom in the Philippines? Reportedly, that person is Roberto Ongpin. (Ongpin used to be an associate of the late Ferdinand Marcos. His brother, that Ongpin during Cory’s term, reportedly committed suicide because he’s ashamed of what his brother did).”

so please, utang na loob, kalimutan na for good yang pagbabago ng economic provisions ng saligang batas.   the restrictions have been there since quezon’s time at least.   even marcos did not have the heart to delete them, knowing that to do so would not bode well for the country.

besides, foreigners are already doing good business here.   they can lease land for 50 years, extendable for another 25.   but why are we still poor?   among other things, because foreigners are allowed to repatriate all profits home.   nothing is plowed back into the economy, which says a lot about our economic fundamentals.    i’ve said this before in a letter to the inquirer editor published back in july 2005 and i’m saying it again:

There’s nothing sound about our economic fundamentals.  Nothing sound about the endless borrowing.   OFW remittances are the only thing that’s been keeping the economy afloat for many many years now, at such cost to our families, marriages, the children.  That’s fundamentally sound?  What would be sound would be if the elite, the rich, who invest their millions in China, Vietnam, the U.S., start investing here at home.  What would be sound would be if the elite were to start plowing back business profits into the local economy instead of piling it up in foreign banks or behaving like foreign investors quick to pull out their money at the first sign of unrest.”

professor benjamin diokno agrees.    invest heavily here, he urges big business.

FILIPINO businessmen should invest heavily in the country in order to generate jobs and not wait for the government to shield the country against the ill effects of the global economic meltdown, economist Benjamin Diokno said over the weekend….

He said many Filipino businessmen have invested heavily in neighboring countries and even deposited their money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.

Instead of letting their money sleep in the banks, Diokno said they can use at least the interest of their money to put up business in the country and help fellow Filipinos to get a decent job as well as keep the economy working.”

only when the rich-who-say-they-love-their-country start putting their money where their mouths are will this country have a hope of making it through the global slump.


  1. hi! regarding the economic provisions of the constitution, to be fair to magno, no where does he say in the article that deleting the economic provisions would shield us from any global economic recession.

    i would like to see a better argument from him (and cha-cha proponents) as to what they want to change and why. if its specifically the economic provisions, then can they name what damage these provisions have dealt the philippine economy over the past couple of decades?

    whether the country is open or not is dependent entirely on govt policy. as magno says, its a question that should be given to representatives to handle as intelligently as possible.

    so u don’t believe that philippine representatives/officials can create good economic policy if totally unconstrained? bakit?

  2. hey gabby ;) “There is an immediate benefit in liberalizing the economic architecture the soonest to help us cope with the global recession.” is how magno ends his argument above.

    ako rin, i would like to see a better argument for deleting the economic provisions. the argument that these provisions ang dahilan kung bakit more/most foreign investments are not coming in and creating more jobs is hogwash. foreign investors think twice thrice because of the redtape and the corruption, the bukols and tongpats – we’re the basketcase of asia, di ba, so why would they, except for the greedy speculators who are so quick to take their money and run…

    and absolutely NO, philippine representatives/officials CAN NOT create good economic policy if totally unconstrained. oh they can surely create economic policy that’s good for their pockets, but not for the country. iba ang values ng mga iyan. most of them are the biggest landowners who have managed to avoid being carp-ed…

    will post columns on foreign ownership by alejandro lichauco of the tribune and william esposo of the star next.

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