Protect PH economy, drop Cha-cha, lawmakers told
As the Duterte administration embarks on amending the highest law of the land, research group IBON called on legislators and government officials to stop moves to change the economic provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Not allowing Charter Change (Cha-cha) in this aspect can be a concrete effort towards a genuinely independent foreign economic policy, IBON said.
President Duterte recently issued Executive Order (EO) No. 10, which formed a group that would study how best to approach Cha-cha. The administration’s bid for Cha-cha highlights a shift to a federal form of government.
Meanwhile, the Philippines has been under pressure by foreign chambers of commerce and past and present United States ambassadors to remove remaining obstacles to full foreign ownership of Philippine industries. This is for the country to qualify as a member of the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) multilateral free trade deal.
Last attempts at Cha-cha by Congress targeted removing limits to foreign ownership of the education, small and medium businesses, land and mass media sectors. According to IBON, pursuing this will prevent the Philippines from directing its wealth to usher the development of local industries and to provide the Filipinos’ basic needs. Economic Cha-cha proponents assume that increasing foreign participation in these sectors will create jobs and alleviate poverty, but statistics have proven otherwise. While total foreign direct investments increased in the Philippines (US$1B in 2010, preliminary US$5.7B in 2014-2015), the number of overseas workers deployed daily exceeded the number of domestic jobs created in the same period.
IBON called on legislators to protect the Philippine economy, muster patriotism, and put a halt to economic Cha-cha maneuvers. According to IBON, more and more countries worldwide are protecting their economies by putting necessary restrictions to foreign entry to vital economic sectors to allow their own production to flourish and serve local needs. Internationally, the number of policies that open up economies up has been decreasing, while the number of protectionist policies has been increasing, notably by developed countries themselves.
IBON said that not pushing through with the economic Cha-cha will be a concrete bold step for the Philippines to assert an independent foreign policy. This pertains to relating with other countries on the basis of independently pursuing one’s own people-centered, not pro-business nor pro-foreign, development, said the group.###(Artwork by Gibet Torres in Jose Diokno’s A Nation for Our Children