DAVAO CITY — Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, a broad alliance of environmentalists and peoples’ organizations, criticized House Speaker Prospero Nograles for pushing for charter change which seeks to allow 100 percent foreign ownership of Philippine natural resources.
Nograles is the author of House Resolution 737, which seeks to scrap the 40 percent limit of foreign ownership of lands, resources and enterprises. This bill has reportedly gathered 163 signatures of Lower House representatives.
The green group believes that the Arroyo-engineered charter change also aims to add more teeth to the already notorious 1995 Philippine Mining (Republic Act 7942), that the Supreme Court again affirmed in 2005.
Amending the 1987 Constitution is to pave way to intensified environment and economic plunder and degradation due to liberalized mining and privatization of freshwater and energy resources.
The full-blown implementation of a liberalized, privatized, and deregulated mining industry will come into reality once charter change has been enacted. The constitutional overhaul will allow 100 percent foreign-ownership of our lands and the exploitation of our natural resources. Charter change will actually further open the country to unbridled foreign exploitation and plunder.
No amount of touted revenues and compensation can pay for the permanent damage to the environment, the displacement of indigenous communities, and the loss of lives and livelihood that will result from large-scale and foreign mining.
It is very disgusting that the lessons from our people’s tragic experiences with large-scale foreign mining in Boac, Marinduque; Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte; Rapu-rapu, Albay; Didipio, Nueva Viscaya; Masara, Maco, ComVal Province; Diwalwal, Monkayo, ComVal; and Surigao del Norte are ignored by the Arroyo government. It should be noted that mining has insignificant contribution to the domestic economy and employment while no measures have been put in place to reverse the continuing damages to the ecosystems and people of the said areas.
The green group challenged Nograles to go to these areas and see for himself what local communities have lost: indigenous people’s ancestral domain, once productive farmlands, biological diversity, pristine rivers and marine ecosystems.
Charter change for liberalization will further aggravate landlessness, land use conversion, wholsale exploitation of biodiversity and natural resources, food insecurity, and the destruction of environment. Filipinos will be deprived of the right to use the country’s resources for their own benefit. Local industry and agriculture, which cannot comprete with big transnational corporations, will also be destroyed.
Environmentalists will heighten the opposition to the Arroyo-engineered charter change and join the Filipino people’s struggle for genuine freedom, democracy, just and sustainable society.
Francis Morales, Mobile number 0928-284-1005