Anchor: Henry Omaga-Diaz
Are we about to dance to the rhythm of Charter Change?
The resurfacing of the clamour for Charter Change is based on the statements of Senators Franklin Drilon, Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte, plus the efforts of Rep. Loreto Ocampos, Chair of the house Committee on Constitutional Amendments—tofile a bill calling the members of Congress to constitute themselves into a constituent assembly and discuss charter change.
It is now out in the open that fresh and some say 'serious' moves are being undertaken to push for charter change that concentrate on changing the economic provisions.
Previously, charter change moves were very controversial during the Arroyo administration. GMA's allies in Congress tried several times after the 2004 elections but were met with strong opposition from Gloria's political opponents, civil society, etc. Her allies also premised their moves on changing the economic provisions, justifying that we need to lift the economic provisions in our constitutions to move forward, open the economy and be a more 'progressive' nation.
The public was sceptical, believing that PGMA would just use cha-cha to remain in office either through a shift in government form, or by lifting term limits.
Then Senator Noynoy Aquino as well as partymates from the Liberal Party (LP) vehemently opposed cha-cha.
Interesting Case Now with Cha-Cha
Officers of Liberal Party are now pushing for cha-cha including Drilon, Belmonte and Ocampos. However, President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy)has issued a statement saying that he does not think cha-cha is needed now.
Again, cha-cha proponents, including LP officers are saying they are only interested in changing the economic provisions of the constitutions to help our economy move forward.
But as a matter of fact, changing the constitution is a function of the legislature, the President has no legal say on it (unlike in making laws where he could veto bills passed by the legislative branch) and yet analysts say as President and as acknowledged leader of LP, he can very well tell or order his partymates to stop pushing for cha-cha if he wanted to. PNoy is perceived to be sending ‘mixed by saying he does not favour it on one point and not stopping his partymates from pursuing it either.
Henry Omaga-Diaz crusades to keep an eye on Charter Change!
The Essence Is
Several economic provisions will be changed once cha-cha pushes through. What could be its far-reaching implications to us and the country?
Limits of foreign ownerships on businesses in the country will be changed from 40% foreign share, 60% Filipino share to 100% foreign ownership being allowed; allowing foreigners to own lands in the country (currently disallowed in our constitution) as well as 100% rights to explore and utilize natural resources; allowing 100% foreign ownership in currently 'protected' industries such as media (currently must be all-Filipino owned), advertising (limited foreign ownership), utilities and ownership of higher educational institutions.
Pro-cha-cha argues that such changes will open up the Philippine economy becausemore foreign investments will come in, which will mean more jobs for Filipinos. They further state that low foreign investmentsare caused by the present economic provisions which limit their businesses in the country.
On the other hand, Anti-cha-cha argues that the Philippines will be at a disadvantage once these kinds of changes take place. Everything will be offered to foreigners. Land value will most likely go up, making it harder for Filipinos to afford buying lands in their own country. Plus, completely opening natural resources to foreigners will leave little resources for us to use for our own purpose eventually.
Anti-cha-cha rebuts the pro-cha-cha argument on low foreign investments as well, saying that it is being used as a scapegoat; foreign investors are discouraged from investing in the country, not because of ‘constitutional limits’ but because of problems in corruption and governance.
Doubts persist that the legislators are only after economic provisions. Many believe that, in truth, they also want to change political provisions in our Constitution (like lifting term limits, ban on political dynasties, etc.). Economy and politics are vehemently interconnected.
October 27, 2011