Economic cha-cha, a treasonous maneuver amid the pandemic

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Duterte’s minions in the Senate and Congress are once again attempting to railroad the charter change (cha-cha) scheme which seeks to change the 1987 Constitution at the start of 2021.

In the Lower House, the committee on constitutional amendments has started discussing the Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 on January 13 on the instigation of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. Velasco is the author of the said proposal known as the “one-line cha-cha.” This pertains to the inclusion of the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in various sections of the constitution which limits foreign ownership of land, natural resources, public utilities, educational institutions, media and advertising. Should this be implemented, Congress may change or remove the said provisions in the law through legislation. This targets to ammend the sections which promote economic and national patrimony; education, science and technology, arts, culture and sports; as well as general provisions. It primarily aims to fully liberalize the economy in order to allow 100% foreign ownership of land and essential enterprises which are currently exclusive to Filipinos.

Velasco asserts that this cha-cha aims to help the economy recover from the pandemic by attracting foreign investment. Studies, however, indicate that what the country needs is not foreign investment but adequate allocation to subsidize distressed enterprises and individuals in order to stimulate the economy.

Foreign capitalists aim to accumulate superprofit in the Philippines and not to develop the economy. According to the Ibon Foundation, the inflow of foreign capital since the 1980s is uninterrupted and continues to increase despite constitutional restrictions. From an average of inflow of $187 million in the 1980s, it has increased to $6.3 billion in 2015-2019.

Foreign companies have only depleted the country’s resources and benefited from the cheap labor of Filipinos in order to accumulate superprofits. Foreign capital has failed to improve the economy and enable it to stand on its own feet. The pandemic has highlighted the country’s inability to manufacture basic medical needs. Filipinos and workers depend on the supply of equipment and medicines from foreign companies and are left at their mercy. They have no say on how these should be priced. They cannot do anything but wait for these vaccines.

In the Senate, Sen. Vicente Sotto III disclosed that Duterte talked to him on November 2020 to revive the push for charter change to kick progressive parties out of Congress by dismantling the party-list system, and amend the economic provisions of the constitution. In December 2020, two of his henchmen senators have already filed a resolution for Congress to convene as a constituent assembly to introduce “limited amendments.”

The Party denounced the push for economic cha-cha. It said that economic-only cha-cha does not make cha-cha less evil than previous ones which mainly focused on political ammendments. It pointed out that its declared aim of giving foreign capitalists the right to fully own land, natural resources and business operations is equivalent to complete economic subjugation. House Speaker Velasco and his cohorts are acting as traitors in pushing for the complete colonization of the Philippines by multinational corporations, in connivance with local big bourgeois comprador companies.

Not one regime has not attempted to ammend the 1987 constitution to completely remove all remaining protections to the economy. Attracting foreign direct investment through liberalization has always been the centerpiece program of successive bureaucrat capitalist governments which serve as agents of big bourgeois compradors.

Duterte’s minions last attempted to railroad cha-cha in congress in December 2018 through former House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but has failed to hurdle the Senate.

Economic cha-cha, a treasonous maneuver amid the pandemic