Wednesday, July 20, 2005


WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: Filipinos, especially those among us in the homeland, who are directly and adversely affected tend to be "lost in the trees and not see the forest". We get bogged down and spent on personalities among our so-called leadership who, then and now, still have no honest desires and actions that would lead to public good. It is so discouraging and outrageous to see an endless charade to "fool the people, buy the people and off the people."

No individual person can be truly independent when he is burdened with debt/credit and close to bankruptcy. And similarly, no individual country can be truly free when it is burdened with odious foreign debt. In both cases, the individual is a slave. The debt-ridden person goes to work to pay for his debt while the debt-ridden country offers its natives the hardships and dangers of impoverishment while leaving their offsprings a mortgaged future.

We Filipinos continue to seemingly enjoy and suffer ad nauseam all these political insults to our intelligence, not realizing that for so long we have been trapped in a cage, maybe a bit larger than usual, wherein we can "jump and run around" (talk about cha-cha, change in form of government, attract foreign investment, sell our patrimony, better tax collection, etc.) while we unwittingly deprive ourselves and our young and unborn a decent, dignified and more humane existence.


Thanks to the endless supply of such costly entertainment that constantly distract us, we have allowed the foreigners to come and plunder our women and children, our agriculture and nascent industries, our country and our national patrimony.

Frankly, our country is not a nation; a nation connotes a united people, which we are not. And our disunity, due to the absence of Filipino nationalism, is a gross disadvantage - to ourselves; and a gross advantage - to foreigners.
[see: and]

Below an article by Joseph YU from IBON (an NGO) on the issue of Charter Change and its hidden agenda.

“Nations whose NATIONALISM is destroyed are subject to ruin.” - Colonel Muhammar Qaddafi, 1942-, Libyan Political and Military Leader

"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --Apolinario Mabini La Revolucion Filipina (1898)

“In the long-run every Government is the exact symbol of its People, with their WISDOM and UNWISDOM; we have to say, Like People like Government. “ - Thomas Carlyle, 1795-1881, Scottish Philosopher, Author


The Arroyo administration is banking on Charter change for its political survival, but amid the hulabaloo on the political aspects of Cha-cha, it should remembered that its proponents also want to change vital economic provisions in the Charter.

By Joseph Yu

IBON Features-- As President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo struggles to hold on to the presidency, it seems her only hope lies in amending the Constitution. Charter change and the false hopes it offers are Arroyo’s last chance to avert not just another popular uprising that would sweep her from power, but a more extreme political scenario such as a military junta.

The Arroyo administration is also urgently pursuing Charter change due to the current economic and financial crisis resulting from its adherence to globalization policies. The government is in dire economic straits as liberalization of trade and investment has substantially eroded domestic sources of industrial and agrarian growth, and resulted in a brewing balance of payments crisis.

Public debate on Charter change has so far revolved around the manner of changing the Constitution and the political “reforms” involved. Hence: a constituent assembly or a constitutional convention. A presidential vs. a parliamentary system.

But in the midst of all the hulabaloo about the political aspects of Charter change, some people seem to have forgotten that proponents of Constitutional reform also want to change vital economic provisions in the Charter. These changes would ease the entry of foreign investments in sectors that were previously restricted to Filipinos. Although Charter change would result in a short-term economic boost as a result of an influx of foreign direct investments (FDI), it would be at the cost of further long-term damage to the local economy.

Undermining Economic Sovereignty

The 1987 Constitution has not successfully regulated the country’s trade and investment relations with other countries towards developing national industries and domestic agriculture. The most that can be said is that the Constitution has partially contained the full implementation of globalization policies and forced monopoly capitalists-- with the cooperation of the government-- to find ways to bypass, subvert or totally disregard it.

The concept of economic sovereignty is in fact enshrined in the Constitution’s Declaration of Principles, which says that the State shall: develop a self-reliant and independent national economy effectively controlled by Filipinos; and pursue an independent foreign policy whose paramount consideration shall be national sovereignty, territorial integrity, national interest and the right to self-determination.

Specific Charter provisions on economic sovereignty include:

• Restricting foreign ownership, the degree of foreigners’ involvement in decision-making and the grounds of expropriation;
• Regulating the exploration, development and use of the national patrimony and defining corresponding rights, privileges and concessions;
• Giving preference to Filipinos and stating the responsibility to protect, encourage and promote Filipino economic activity;
• Giving the state various powers with which to assert national sovereignty, specifically in terms of: regulating trade, monopolies and other economic activity in the public interest and in favor of Filipinos; defining the State’s treaty making powers; and giving the Supreme Court the power to assert the Constitution’s nationalist provisions.

In principle, these provisions could be used to assert the Philippines’ economic sovereignty at least in a limited way. In practice however, administrations from Ramos to Arroyo have seen these as barriers to foreign direct investments that should be removed. It has even undermined these provisions by ratifying the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and by passing laws such as the Foreign Investment Act of 1991 and the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

Foreign chambers of commerce and other big business interests have also not been shy about revealing their preferences for Charter change. The US, in particular, has been very vocal in criticizing restrictions on foreign ownership of land and other nationality requirements in public utilities (i.e. electricity, water, telecommunications, public transport) and other sectors such as banking and advertising.

Foreign Domination of Services

Charter change is also in line with government’s commitments to open the economy under the WTO. This would lead to transnational corporations gaining control of vital sectors of the domestic economy.

Recently, the government announced that it would open six service sectors to foreign investors under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The offer covers information technology (IT), construction, distribution, energy, and environmental and tourism services. Constitutional “reform” would ease the process of opening these sectors to foreign investors.

For example, investing in the environmental services sector (which includes water and sewerage) would be more attractive to outside investors if total foreign control would be allowed. Although water services have been privatized, full foreign ownership is still prohibited under the Constitution.

The offer to liberalize the construction and energy sectors covers services incidental to the mining industry. After the Supreme Court recently upheld the 1995 Mining Act, government is hell-bent on liberalizing the industry, in violation of the Constitution and at the expense of indigenous peoples and small communities who oppose mining on their lands. Removing economic sovereignty provisions in the Charter would preclude later legal challenges to foreign control of these sectors.

Adherence to GATS itself should be prohibited under the Constitution because of its requirement for WTO members to extend most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment to trading partners. MFN treatment means that if a country allows foreign presence in a sector, it must allow equal opportunities in that sector to service providers from all other WTO member-nations.

But it can also be interpreted to mean that a government cannot provide incentives to domestic providers of a service without providing the same incentives to foreign providers. This sharply restricts government’s powers to develop the local economy by protecting it against competition from foreign providers. This goes against Article XII Sec. 1 of the Constitution, which says that the State shall “protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices.”

It should also be noted that MFN treatment applies even if a country has made no specific commitments to provide foreign companies access to its markets under the WTO.

Presidential Survival Tactics

The Arroyo administration is banking on Charter change for its political survival. In a recent speech before 500 Philippine consuls and honorary consuls to the US and Filipino-American investors, Arroyo once again pledged that she would speed up constitutional amendments.

But it is clear that the real motive behind Charter change is to remove Constitutional provisions on economic sovereignty that hamper transnational corporations’ full exploitation of the country’s natural resources and labor.

Charter change advocates also aim to tighten their control over the political system by diluting the Charter’s provisions on civil liberties and human rights. This would allow them to stifle dissent over their iniquitous economic policies. Moves towards the intensification of state repression are already evident with the rash of killings of activists.

Admittedly, the 1987 Constitution is not perfect. But for all its weaknesses, it must be prevented from becoming worse through Charter change. It is not the Constitution itself that is the root of the people’s social and economic problems. The basic problems of the country are foreign domination, factionalism of elite politics, bad governance and feudal bondage-- and any Charter emerging amidst these problems can only be worse.

Meaningful constitutional change can only take place when it is driven by the people’s true economic and political interests rather than in response to the demands of foreign interests. IBON Features

"If the people are not completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own." - George Washington, shortly after the end of the American Revolution

"The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain" - Thomas Jefferson, 1809

"The chief business of America is business" - President Calvin Coolidge, 1925

"The glory of the United States is business" - Wendell L. Willkie, 1936

"What else do bankers do -- walk-in and turn-off the lights in the country." - William Slee, 1978

IBON Features is a media service of IBON Foundation, an independent economic policy and research institution. When reprinting this feature, please credit IBON Features and give the byline when applicable.


botak-leceh said...

It is only natural to be suspicious of foreign control over essential services and utilities such as water and electricity and you may even, or likely, be right to fear foreign control and domination. But before we come to this stage, it might be more appropriate to examine the local bodies that control such resources and utilities. Are they better than the foreigners whom we fear? Let's take one step at a time

Paulinecfny said...


1. The Philippines still exists as a feudal society, ruled by a landed aristocracy (a few wealthy Filipino families). Therefore, when discussing or reporting on the Philippine economy, it should be in the context of a feudal society.

2. The Philippines is a "poor" country, also falling under the category of "third world", when being viewed by the international community. This is justified by the fact that eighty percent of the population is poor. Therefore, any analysis of its economy should consider the participation of the majority composed of the eighty percent poor.

3. Hunger is "the" major problem of Filipinos. Therefore discussions should center around this issue.

4. Filipinos are being oppressed for ONE REASON. They have the BRAINPOWER. Therefore they have the capability to fully industrialize and develop advanced systems if they wanted to. The oppressors have found a people who are by some circumstance greatly endowed with the abilities to excel in different fields of endeavor, be it science, technology, art, literature, music, business, management, etc., capable of surpassing the achievements of many countries and dominating the world.

5. The Philippine government and foreign investors steal intellectual property, such as inventions, discoveries, technology, research, strategies, solutions, new ideas, new products, from Filipino students, teachers and intelligentsia, even from poor communities. These intellectual properties are stolen by collecting documents submitted by Filipino college students in the form of research and reports. They are also published works of Filipino professors. Government also monitors activities of poor communities involved in planning and building their own home structures and sewages, etc., using recycled products from garbage dumps. Etc. These works are not reported in any manner befitting a new discovery, a distinguished study, a potentially money-making investment, a major contribution to the human race, etc., by a Filipino, but rather by a foreigner after the idea is stolen. However, Filipinos have been systematically brainwashed by the government to believe that their work is not of interest, Filipinos don't ever suspect that their ideas are being used and acquired by foreigners to make millions if not billions of dollars, etc. They would never think of it because the government and foreigners are pretending they are not interested in it. For example, erythromycin was discovered by a Filipino scientist, but never made money out of it. Instead, some rich American pharmaceutical company ran away with the big bucks. In many foreign companies that have offices in the Philippines, management styles, even simple low-level ingenuity in tackling an assignment are being observed and catalogued, quietly, unbeknownst to Filipino employees. These essential workplace skills are then "transferred" by the foreign company to their headquarters abroad as new and advanced technology, without giving credit to Filipino workers.

6. If the world is very interested in Filipino products, labor, etc., that are exported, why can't the Philippines demand a higher price? Do you really believe that they are just doing us a favor when they buy our bananas and pineapples, etc.? Something is wrong with the equation. Take a look at Philippine exports in order to get an inventory of Philippine goods (mostly perishable) that are in demand in foreign countries. The world is highly dependent on many Philippine produce (ie bananas, coconut, pineapple, sugar, etc., to name a few). Find out why we have to sell them so cheap, if they are in demand and are long-time fixtures at many grocery stores around the world. If these products are so important to foreign countries, why are they sold so cheaply "by the dozen", when eighty percent of Filipinos are so poor and in need of cash? Do you really think these foreign countries can do without our bananas and pineapples?

Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 13:03:52 EDT
Subject: Re: THE FILIPINO MIND - Charter Change and Presidential Survival

I think we're giving too much credibility to the issue of charter change. I believe that the proposal for charter change is not worth talking about because in reality any government system will do given the realities of Philippine economy and life in general. Eighty percent of the people that is why you can make a generalized statement saying that the Philippines is a poor country, even if there are some wealthy families there. So we must talk about solutions and issues given the context of a third world poor country (meaning almost everyone is poor and starving). So if everyone is starving, any govt will do for now, because the only thing that needs to be done right now is to feed the hungry mouths, and any system can do that.

To propose charter change is like missing the whole point of the discussion. Charter change is irrelevant and irrelevant to the topic of hunger. It was reported that poor farmers in the Philippines only eat once or twice a day, usually just rice and sometimes just bananas. Why are we arguing whether the constitution should be changed or not. What difference does it make if its a president or a prime minister, at this point. We have a feudal system and society and yet the government is toying with the idea and thoughts of modernizing and technology by picking a small group of participants who can run a mini, micro economy in Makati area. Simply put, the government has found a way for its chosen community of a few Filipinos to enjoy the pretend lifestyle that involves a semblance of globalization and industrialization, parliamentarization, etc., a fake economy, in order to "keep up" with trends in the developed world. And this is the focus of the media and critics -- the pretend micro-economy, and neglecting to pay attenton to the reality of a feudal society.

The reality is that we are still in the feudal system where the entire country is poor and hungry. We are in a state of emergency where no one is providing immediate attention to these emergencies. That is what is really going on. So the question really is, what do we need to talk about given that there is an emergency -- people starving and untreated, families torn apart, the government imposing its iron fist on its people left and right, people unprotected and being violated on a daily basis. Are you really telling me that we have time to ratify and rewrite the constitution, while there are starving people around you? I think that is so unacceptable.

And might I add that Filipinos ought to be aware now that the truth is that Filipinos are in fact highly capable of being truly independent as a country because they have the brainpower to industrialize and develop advanced systems. The problem is that they are being subjugated by an oppressive landed class dominated congress and senate, which does not hesitate and openly uses the military to control the actions and minds of Filipinos. Also, we should know by now that the Philippines is a gold mine in terms of food products, mining, real estate, wildlife, etc. That is why the WTO and GATT were formed -- to strategize the export/import of Philippine goods to cohorts and accomplices. In other words, organizations like WTO, etc., are looter. They have found a way to plunder our natural resources, our products, our land, our sea, through a concerted group effort which enables them to hide their agenda and fool Filipinos into thinking that they are incapable and weak and invaluable, with nothing to offer. So that they should be thankful for the jobs as nurses and nannies in exchange for a few dollars that they get by leaving their loved ones and living like indentured slaves under the mercy of foreign bosses and supposedly better people -- that is what they have twisted things around in purpose in order that they can eat cheap bananas and pineapples everyday, just to mention a few.

So be careful. Guard your knowledge and skills. Make sure you recognize that you have a pool of highly skilled and talented students and teachers who are contributing greatly to the development of the world, but are not being recognized because the government and foreign investors are steal intellectual property by hiring Filipinos and monitoring their achievements in the workplace, documenting these achievements, and then marketing these achievements under foreign banners, making millions but paying for cheap Filipino workers.

Pauline Santos