Every President (except Cory and Noynoy) from Marcos to Ramos, to Arroyo, and now Duterte, when about to end their term, tries to tamper with the Constitution. We excluded Erap because he was ousted before he could even finish his term of office. Various reasons to change the charter are presented, from changing the form of government to economic provisions such as the one now pushed in Congress.
Keen political observers usually suspect that the true motive is to keep themselves in power beyond their term limits. For purposes of giving them the benefit of the doubt, let us take up, for the sake of intelligent discussion, the proposal to grant 100% ownership of lands and strategic businesses to foreigners.
We are not lacking in local examples to show the senselessness of this proposal. Nong Doro (not his real name) owns a lot in Cortes surrounded by neighbors. Here comes a rich Chinese businessman who bought all the surrounding lots one by one at a good price. All of Nong Doro’s poor neighbors were of course tempted to sell. Nong Doro did not want to sell his lot because it is the only legacy that his late father bequeathed to him and his own family. But what choices are left for him?
This happened also to many farmers in Mindanao. Many of them did not want to sell their small land holdings to corporations that went on a buying spree to put up plantations. But small farmers who found their little portions in the middle of the plantations are forced to sell out. If all they had was that small portion, they could end up as squatters elsewhere. We are even talking about fellow Filipinos here.
What if foreigners, billionaires and millionaires from China, USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and other countries are given 100% rights, just as Filipinos have, to own properties and businesses here? How many of us, especially the poor, could end up as squatters in our own country?
This was the reason why the late LinoBrocka walked out of the Constitutional Commission in 1987. He, along with other nationalist progressive members of the ConCom, wanted to keep the 100% ownership exclusively for Filipinos. Conservative ConCom members who were heavily influenced by multinational corporations were able to muster a majority and successfully reduced the 100% rights of Filipinos to 60%. That was even considered conservative already at that time.
But today, our leaders in Congress and in Malacanang Palace want to instead give the 100% to foreigners? What is happening here? Our leaders no longer care for millions of their constituents who are like Nong Doro? They no longer care about the poor farmers who could lose even their subsistence farm lots?
Is Carlos P. Garcia’s Filipino First Policy now completely erased from the consciousness of our leaders and people? This is the saddest refrain to a year of pandemic. For those of us, however few, who remain loyal to CPG’s ideals, we vehemently say, NO TO CHA-CHA!