Cha-cha backers looking at wrong places: Monsod

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Aug 27 2014 04:28 PM | Updated as of Aug 28 2014 12:28 AM

MANILA - Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the Constitution, said the proponents and supporters of Charter change are looking in all the wrong places to uplift the lives of Filipinos.

In an interview with radio dzMM, Monsod said there are other aspects that need to be highlighted in order to ensure inclusive growth instead of allowing foreigners greater control over the country's assets.

"They’re looking at the wrong places for sustained inclusive growth. Our social reform programs are dead in the water: housing, agrarian reform, ancestral domain, municipal fishermen. They are the poorest of the poor,” he said.

He said education, health, food security should be the priority of legislators instead.

He added even the “trustworthiness of democratic institutions” remains a big problem, which is why any talk of possible extension of term limits will “be bad to the psyche.”

Plenary debates to change the economic provisions began yesterday, with proponents insisting that amendments will be responsive to the needs of Filipinos.

Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 (RBH 1), authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., seeks to include the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in several sections of Articles XII (national economy and patrimony), XIV (education, science and technology, arts, culture and sports) and XVI (general provisions).

Monsod, however, said the Constitution already provides full ownership for foreigners in several areas.

On the issue of ownership of land, he explained that if a business will depend on foreign ownership for its viability “then it won’t be a good project.”

He said the Constitution already provides lease contracts, which allows contractors to retain the land even beyond 50 years.

“On the issue of natural resources, the biggest is mining. Under the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement, 100 percent ownership is already allowed. So what deterrent are they talking about?” he said.

The same could be said for power generation, he added.

“On media, we decided before to impose the limits because the nationalistic spirit may be affected. There may be paradigms or policies espoused that might not be good for Filipinos,” he said.

Nonetheless, technology has already answered the claims of Cha-cha proponents. “Technology has already caught up with the problems they are saying… You can access all kinds of content online,” he said.

The telecommunication industry, on the other hand, is awash with cash, he said. “The problem is they’re not putting enough money to improve the quality of service,” he said.

Regulators are even giving them misplaced incentives to the tune of P20 billion to P30 billion profits, he added.

“If you read the world survey on foreign investments, even the recommendations of business chambers, Cha-cha is not important. What they are pushing are infrastructure, quality of human resources, regulatory environment, eliminating corruption, and peace and order,” he said.

He noted the likes of Japan and Korea saw their economic growth rise faster even if the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) registered at only 2% of their total economy.