KALIKASAN PEOPLES NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
21 June 2009
Reference: Clemente Bautista Jr. National Coordinator, Kalikasan-PNE
Why Environmentalists Oppose Charter Change:
Cha-Cha to accelerate foreign control and plunder of our natural resources
The European Union’s (EU) demand to allow foreign ownership of our land
and resources is just a validation of the influence of foreign states and
corporations on the Arroyo administration to push for charter change. And
Pres. Arroyo has proven herself more than willing to give in to the
foreigners' demands while advancing her own self-interest.
It is historically evident that powerful nations like EU and United States
(US) will exhaust all means just to ensure that their economic control
over other countries will continue. They have their puppets and local
partners to help remove the legal restrictions that keep foreigners from
getting what they want: further cheap raw materials, docile labor, and
market for their surplus products.
The US for one, has been most active in meddling in our politics and
economy. Under the auspice of the US government, the 1935 Philippine
Constitution clearly stipulated “the property rights of the United States
and the Philippines shall be promptly adjusted and settled, and all
existing property rights of citizens or corporations of the United States
shall be acknowledged, respected, and safeguarded to the same extent as
property rights of the Philippines.”
When the titular Philippine independence was granted in 1946, the US
government passed the Bell Trade Act, which required the revision of the
Philippine Constitution to grant US citizens and corporations equal access
and control to Philippine minerals, forests and other natural resources.
Just more than a decade ago, the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which was
primarily sponsored by then senator and now president Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo, was passed. This legalized the 100% foreign ownership of our
mineral lands. Foreign corporations are allowed to control and exploit
81,000 hectares of our land for 50 years. Not contented, the Act also
grants foreign mining corporations timber and water rights for them to
exploit forest and water resources inside their mining concessions.
As seen in our history and remains to be true until now, the biggest
exploiters and beneficiaries of our lands and natural resources are
foreign transnational corporations.
Agricultural giants DOLE and Del Monte have the largest agricultural
plantations in the country. The biggest mining projects and operations are
owned by British, Australian, Canadian, Chinese, Koreans and Japanese
mining corporations. Our oil and gas resources are also owned by
foreigners, such as the control of UK Royal Dutch Shell and US Chevron in
the multibillion-dollar Malampaya natural gas project in Palawan.
Case in point is the recent news of a UK-based company being given 400,000
hectares of land for coconut plantation to supply biofuel to Japan while
majority of Filipinos live in dire poverty without even a parcel of land
to till. How one company is given land the size of a province to plant a
commodity that is to be exported and not be of direct benefit to the
millions of Filipinos in need of food and subsistence is the ultimate
expression of foreign control.
In addition to it being a common and historic practice in the country,
foreign ownership of our lands, facilities, businesses are already allowed
in the Constitution. The current initiatives to amend the constitution
through constituent assembly aims to further expand these rights and
privileges to foreign corporations and will surely accelerate plunder of
our natural resources and patrimony.
These pro-foreigner proposals and legislations are being mouthed by
President Arroyo’s top honchos in Congress, particularly House Speaker
Prospero Nograles and her son Rep. Mikey Arroyo. These salesmen are openly
pitching for amending the Constitution to allow foreign ownership of our
lands through a resolution. They want the Filipinos to believe that
enticing foreign investors will lead to economic progress and benefit the
Charter change is a betrayal of our patrimony and sovereignty. It is thus
an obligation of every Filipino who maintains a degree of concern to our
environment and country to oppose the moves of trapos (traditional
politicians) in Congress and in Malacanang who present themselves as
promoters of our rights and interests but are actually promoters of their
class interests and of foreign entities.
Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099
KALIKASAN People's Network for the Environment is a network of people's
organizations (POs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
environmental advocates. It believes that the struggle for the environment
is a struggle of the people, thus all environmental action shall have the
interest of the majority at their core.