Local News: Cong. Colmenares Foresees: ‘CHA-CHA is Deemed Dangerous’
Bacolodnon by heart and blood, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares is strongly opposing the reincarnation of Charter Change (cha-cha) of the Philippines Constitution.
He said, "I really do not see the reasons behind the moves of House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile in pushing for Charter change (Cha-cha), but I have been battling cha cha for nearly 10 years now and as a nemesis of baseless and self-interest driven proposals for charter change, I continue to be against the latest cha-cha moves.
First, the Constitution is not the problem that causes poverty but corruption, wrong economic policies and lack of accountability for those that wield economic and political power. Therefore, amending the Constitution cannot be the solution but in fact will only worsen the problem and increase poverty. The constitution can be changed ten times this year, and it will not stamp out poverty as long as the same political and economic relations that exist today will remain.
Second, the economic premise of those proposing to take out constitutional restrictions is one of the most baseless proposals ever made, not supported by any real research. In fact, it is completely untrue because many of the economic miracles they cite are countries also that have restrictive or protectionist provisions. The proposal to give aliens 100% ownership to land, public utilities, and natural resources among others, is not only a recipe for disaster that will result in extremely high prices and more poverty but also totally overboard because even the supposed economically booming countries do not allow the same liberalization. Thailand requires 51% Thai ownership of its public utilities such as electricity and energy; Australia requires 65% Australian ownership of its telecommunication; Brazil requires 49% Brazilian ownership of its lands. In fact, aliens are totally prohibited from owning land in China. Nepal, Mongolia and Cambodia which allows unrestricted foreign ownership are as poor as a country rat.
Third, the proposed opening of the country to foreigners raises serious security issues which the proponents did not even research. Will China be allowed to maintain beach heads in Palawan and Batangas if it buys coastal lands in these provinces? Will China be allowed to buy Meralco and other public utilities and hold us hostage if the Spratlys issue is not resolved? These examples only show that the premises used in justifying charter change is totally insane. Fourth, their proposed method of constituent assembly is very dangerous and opens up the Constitution to the whims of a Congress that has passed obnoxious laws such as the Oil Deregulation law and the EPIRA which has worsened poverty and stunted economic growth. Once Congress is allowed easy access to constitutional amendment, and a precedent is set, it is a foregone conclusion that it would subsequently amend other provisions of the Constitution including elimination of term limits for politicians. Bayan Muna is against extension of terms. The proponents are just testing the waters, so to speak. The leadership of both Houses is playing with fire through this method especially since they would not know what future Congresses would do to the Constitution.
Lastly, the people have spoken against cha cha in many instances-in Pirma, in Sigaw ng Bayan People’s Initiative, against Speaker De Venecia’s House of Representatives Con Ass and, most importantly, against the Fourth Mode Con Ass of Speaker Nograles. Now they are resurrecting cha cha against the peoples’ will. This is totally unacceptable.
The people will definitely punish those who will condemn them to more poverty through charter change, Colmenares stressed.*