Amid the circulating advertisements to change the constitution, several groups argue that it would worsen poverty in the country. On 15 January 2024, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said that the Charter Change (Chacha) initiative would expose the country’s alienable and disposable lands to 100% foreign ownership.
Alienable and disposable lands refer to land within public domain and are subject to land distribution to qualified beneficiaries. According to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), there are around 14.2 million hectares of land that can be subject to free distribution to farmers.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6, seeking to amend the “economic provisions” of the 1987 Constitution. The RBH No. 6 aims to change the limitation on foreign ownership of industries, which currently imposed 60% Filipino – 40% foreign as a general rule.
On Section 11 of Article XII, the RBH No. 6 particularly added the clause “unless provided by law,” which would ease the restriction on public utility ownership.
This move, KMP asserted, will prompt “plunder of remaining land and natural resources.”
“Instead of devoting our land and resources to the genuine development of the domestic agriculture, economy, and industries, ChaCha will allow more foreign-owned extractive industries, logging, ecotourism, real estate projects, expansion of agro-corporation plantations, and other business operations intended for profit-making,” KMP said in a statement.
They also asserted that the foreign ownership of land will likely result in further landlessness of farmers, prompting massive hunger, famine, loss of livelihood, and even more worsened poverty.
Beyond its impact on rural landscapes, Carmelita Collado of Quezon City Urban Poor Coordinating Council (QC UPCC) said that the ChaCha petition only wasted the people’s money to advance anti-people agenda and policies.
The Constitutional Convention for ChaCha is said to cost Php 9.5 billion, according to economic think-tank IBON Foundation.
Collado also said that communities are being deceived into signing Chacha petitions in exchange for socio-economic relief.
She also mentioned that one of the manifestations of the government’s eagerness to submit to foreign investors is the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program, which is largely denounced by the transport sector and commuters around the country.
“The Chacha is not the solution to revive the economy. The government should focus on people’s job security, decent and enough wage for workers, and providing adequate housing for the urban poor,” Collado said in a Filipino statement.