15 August 2011
MANILA — “More trade and investment liberalization won’t solve the country’s poverty. Implementing these through Charter change is like mistaking the poison that has made the country ill for the medicine.”
This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr.’s recent push for the Philippine government to amend the 1987 Constitution to allow foreign companies to build majority stakes in companies in the country.
Thomas hinted that changing the Constitution will enable the country to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an Asia-Pacific trade organization which he said could greatly widen the country’s markets, generate jobs and reduce poverty.
“Decades upon decades of trade and investment liberalization have only caused greater poverty for the Filipino workers and people. It is only foreign monopoly capitalists and local elites who have benefited from these policies,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
KMU cited independent think-tank Ibon Foundation’s research showing that despite a surge in foreign direct investments and in the value of the country’s exports within the past 25 years, unemployment, hunger and poverty in the country have worsened and remain severe.
Message to US: Back-off!
KMU also slammed the US Ambassador for making a pitch for Charter change, saying the US is very influential in the country’s affairs.
“We condemn US Ambassador Thomas’s statement, which is nothing less than a dictate to the Philippine government. Given the decades-old subservience of the country’s government to the US, such an advice is way different from just another country’s advice,” said Soluta.
“How dare Ambassador Thomas advice the Philippines on how to develop, given that his country – the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world – cannot even grapple with its present crisis? It is in fact policies associated with trade and investment liberalization which accelerated the current crisis in the US,” he added.
Orchestrated drive for Cha-cha
KMU called for vigilance among the Filipino workers and people amidst the US-orchestrated drive by the Philippine government to change the Constitution.
“Given Pres. Aquino’s admission that he is pushing for a Bangsamoro substate, the creation of which would entail changing the Constitution, and US Ambassador Thomas’s push for Cha-cha, we are calling on the Filipino workers and people to be more vigilant. Something is definitely cooking, and it won’t be good for the country,” Soluta said.
“The US and the Aquino regime are trying very hard to make their campaign for Cha-cha look unscripted so that Cha-cha itself will simply look like it is just a confluence of factors. We know better, of course, and we plan to oppose this Cha-cha,” he added.