Poor doomed as Cha-cha looms

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The proposed constitutional amendment to remove restrictions on foreign ownership of public utilities and agricultural lands will result in unabated landgrabbing and poor working conditions, a militant lawmaker warned on Thursday.

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Anakpawis party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap made the warning a day after approval of Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and which allows Congress to pass a law that would revise the current 40-percent limit to foreign ownership of public utilities, media entities and lands and exploration of natural resources, as well as the 30-percent foreign ownership threshold for advertising firms and other business ventures.

Hicap noted that entry of foreign investors in the countryside was always preceded by landgrabbing and dislocation of poor farmers, as seen in the case of the 8,650-hectare Hacienda Looc in Batangas, the 7,100-hectare Hacienda Yulo in Laguna, the 2,000-hectare Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga, as well as the 36,000-hectare Clark Green City project in Tarlac.

“Landgrabbing and dislocation of farmers are widespread, as land has been commodified, speculated [on]and targeted by foreign investors,” the lawmaker said.

The entry of foreign investors would not be good for workers either, Hicap added.

He cited the case of workers in special economic zones where a number of foreign investors impose contractualization, limit the workers’ restroom breaks, force overtime, combine morning and afternoon breaks as lunch break and operate 24 hours, among others.

“The foreign investors’ primary interest in the Philippine economy is profit, hence, [the implementation of]anti-worker programs and policies. There are many workers as young as 40 years old who are already suffering from different illnesses, as their decades-old work is all exploitation to the fullest of their labor power and health,” Hicap said.

According to him, the middle class, who are into small and medium enterprises (SMEs), would also take a hit with the entry of the foreign investors.

“We are witnessing the flooding of retail stores that are foreign-owned. Under Charter change, even the mini-groceries, sari-sari [variety]store, small shops, would end up bankrupt as they would compete with foreign businesses that we know have huge capital and are capable of overwhelming local businesses,” Hicap said.

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5 Comments

  1. Agricultural land and public utilities should not be included in the 100% percent ownership it will compromise our national security.Manufacturing will be the best one because it will employ a lot of people.

  2. Why would it doom the poor? Any competent finance or economics expert would tell you that this was long overdue.

    If you look at Singapore, it allows a 100% foreign ownership of their businesses despite being a small nation. Why? Because it’s extremely beneficial to the economy. The Philippines is one of the few countries left and South East Asia that doesn’t allow a 100% foreign ownership – and you don’t see us being one of the top economies now do you?

    You can’t just argue that this is going to be harmful to small businesses because those businesses provide little employment and low pay to the people anyway. Whereas foreign owned businesses can provide a large amount of employment with better pay – which can help prevent Filipinos from being forced to work abroad because of financial problems.

    The current “nationalistic” view only really benefits a handful of business elites such as the Ayalas and the Cojuancos. It’s time to give them some competition so that they can up their game.

    Wake up Filipinos. Don’t just judge these things based on sentiment as you look at the issue only at its surface level.

    • Edit:
      The Philippines is one of the few countries left *in South East Asia that doesn’t allow a 100% foreign ownership – and you don’t see us being one of the top economies now do you?

  3. Lahat ng pamilya ng mga congressman at sila ay itali sa loob ng kanilang tahanan at sunugin!!at lalong-lalo na itong si belmonte,sobra ang yaman hindi mo alam kung saan pinagkukuha!
    Kukulo ang dugo mo sa mga utak demonyong mambabatas na ito!
    Nakikita lang nila ang kanilang pakinabang!
    Dapat sa mga ito ay ….!!

  4. Stephen Bailey on

    Protect the Philippine economy. Do NOT allow this to happen. Invite partnerships. DO NOT allow foreign interests to absorb the assets of the Republic of the Philippines. China, would love to possess everything they can within sovereign Philippines territory, from the Spratly’s to downtown Manila.

    Business partnerships, with solid written groundrules are the way to go. That way, the interests of the Philippine worker, Philippine business partners, and Philippine sovereignty are protected.