Militant groups oppose Charter Change

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 05 March)– Progressive groups here oppose the proposal to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution to lift  restrictions on foreign ownership over the country’s natural resources.

John Paul Dizon, secretary general of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region (KMU-SMR), told MindaNews on Saturday that they are wary of charter change because it would allow foreign entities to fully own and exploit resources in the country.

He said the Filipino people and domestic industries should be the ones to own and benefit from the natural resources.

Senator Robin Padilla, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, in a statement last week said the proposed amendments to economic provisions would benefit the ordinary Filipinos.

He assured the public they will take into consideration  the “welfare of the people and not of politicians” once the process of amending the present charter begins, either through constituent assembly or constitutional convention.

Padilla  said the amendments would pave the way for  the entry of more direct foreign investments.

“We have a capital shortage in our economy and our government is in deep debt,” he said.

He added that the proposal to amend the Constitution would enable the government ”to respond more effectively to the serious problems of our country.”

Dizon said the change they hope to see for the people should start from genuine agrarian reform by distributing lands to the farmers where they can plant crops such as rice, a staple among Filipinos, and providing them support to increase productivity such as subsidies for farm inputs.

He said government should promote national industrialization to establish industries that the State will own. 

Dizon explained that the country has raw materials but these are being extracted and brought abroad for processing.

He added that Filipinos are equally capable of processing the raw materials that would supply the needs of the country.

According to the briefer released by KMU, the present Constitution restricts foreign ownership of businesses, including public utilities and natural resources, to 40% and the 60% must be owned by the Filipinos.

It said amendments would also allow foreigners to lease more than 1,000 hectares for 25 to 50 years. Under the current charter, the group said it only allows foreigners to lease not more than 1,000 hectares for the same period.

In a press release, Beverly Gofredo, spokesperson for Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao Region, said charter change is “just a way for the Marcos-Duterte regime to intensify their corruption and dictatorship, as they continue being a slave of the imperialist countries and bureaucratic capitalism.”  (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)