Groups Slam Approval of Nograles Resolution on Cha-cha

Groups slammed the Committee on Constitutional Amendments for its approval of House Resolution 737 authored by House Speaker Prospero Nograles.

House Resolution 737 seeks to amend Art. XII, Sec. 7 of the 1987 Constitution which states that only Filipinos and Filipino owned corporations can own private lands, utilize the country’s natural resources and operate public utilities. Nograles’ resolution allows 100 percent foreign ownership of land.

Members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held a picket today at the House of Representatives condemning the approval of the Nograles resolution yesterday.

Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano said the Arroyo government is pushing the Filipino peasantry to the wall. “HR 737 is clearly designed for large-scale foreign land-grabbing with Ms. Arroyo as wholesaler.”

The farmer-legislator added, “After using farmers’ names in the fertilizer funds cum electoral scandal, and the extrajudicial killings and persecution of peasant leaders,” Mariano said, “now comes a grandiose plan to sellout our lands and resources to foreigners courtesy of Ms Arroyo’s Cha-cha and HR 737.”

Renato M. Reyes, Jr., Bayan secretary general, said. “This is a gross betrayal of the national interest. Not only do these lawmakers keep pushing for charter change in a time of crisis, they’re practically selling out the entire country to foreign interests.”

The group said that it is a false assumption that liberalizing land ownership will spur investments and thus create more jobs for Filipinos.

“Foreign corporations are interested in maximizing their profits, more than anything else. The kind of investments will likely be in extractive industries such as mining that will drain our domestic resources, or in foreign agri-business which will undermine domestic food security. We’ll be at the losing end,” Reyes said.

In a statement, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said the Nograles’ resolution paves the way for the insertion of amendments that will allow Mrs. Gloria Arroyo to run in the 2010 elections.

Lawyer Neri Javier Colmenares, NUPL secretary general said, “Assurances that Congress as a Constituent Assembly will not insert term extensions is without any value not only because of the lack of credibility of members of Congress but also because the Constituent Assembly cannot be bound by assurances from Congress much less from individual congressmen.”

He added, “Pronouncements by presidential allies that charter change is dead is nothing more than a scheme to encourage complacency among the people. Malacañang is very confident it will hurdle the four Legal Nodal Points along the path of a successful amendment to the Constitution to extend Pres. Arroyo’s reign.”

Colmenares is referring to the Congress, the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Supreme Court and the plebiscite as the four legal nodal points along the road to constitutional change.

He explained, “Should Congress, with the presence of one or two senators, vote ‘jointly’ and approve the charter change resolution by ¾ vote it can then order the Comelec to schedule a plebiscite immediately after 60 days from such approval as provided under Section 4, Article XVII of the Constitution. Malacanang is also confident that the Supreme Court will favor charter change and order the Comelec to push through with the plebiscite should anyone challenge the Comelec before the Supreme Court. Because there have been no substantial electoral reforms and pro Cha-cha forces have all the resources and power at their disposal, it is highly likely that the amendment will be approved despite the strong opposition.”

The lawyers’ group noted that the Committee on Constitutional Amendments’ rejection of House Resolution 888 urging Congress not to tackle charter change before 2010 ‘shows the single minded intent of pro-Cha-cha forces to railroad amendments to the Constitution.’

Colmenares said Arroyo is ‘obsessed by the possibility that she will lose her immunity by July 1, 2010 and many criminal cases will be filed against her after her term.’ “Considering the strong evidence against her and the difficulty of covering up her crimes once she is no longer president, President Arroyo is surely afraid that she will be the second president convicted for corruption, electoral fraud or human rights violation.”

The two groups called on the public to oppose all moves to amend the Constitution. (

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