Tuesday, August 16, 2005

NR0816:GMA's two main motives for pushing Cha cha

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release August 16, 2005
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
cp number 09213907362 geocities.com/ap_news

PGMA using Cha cha both as means to divert public attention from calls for her impeachment and ouster and to secure the continuing support of the US and foreign business groups for her floundering administration

Anakpawis Representative today said that Malacañang's renewed calls for Charter change (Cha-cha)is one of the United States’ political and economic agenda in the Philippines, and the US is pressuring the Macapagal-Arroyo government to push constitutional amendments in return for the US’ support for the beleaguered President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Pres. Arroyo is desperate to keep the support of the US, and her efforts towards this aim include the constant issuance of agreement with the recommendations of the United States for Charter Change. The US embassy in the Philippines, the American Chamber of Commerce and various US officials have long before stated their opposition to the Philippines’ constitutional restrictions against foreign land ownership and foreign investments in vital sectors. Even the government's application for economic aid from the US's $5 billion Millennium Challenge Account is conditional on the country's proving its commitment to "open markets,” he said.

Beltran said that the renewed calls for Cha cha were not only a political diversionary tactic on the part of Mrs. Arroyo to pull attention away from the calls for her impeachment, resignation and ouster, but also a means to convince foreign creditors that she was still the best person for the job of ensuring unhampered foreign business operations in the country.

“Mrs. Arroyo is using the Charter Change card as an incentive for foreign business and their respective governments such as the US to continue supporting her despite the strong clamor of her constituents for her removal from office,” he said.

He said that that the European Union and international financial institutions like the World Bank and Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry have also called for the lifting of constitutional restrictions which they say are "disincentives" to foreign investment. In the meantime, the World Bank in April this year lamented foreign investment restrictions in the Charter and called for the "opening of professional services (such as accountants, lawyers and engineers)" to foreigners and the easing of entry and foreign ownership limits in land ownership, public utilities, educational institutions and construction companies, among others.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator said that while Mrs. Arroyo and her allies are trumpeting the supposed need for changes in the political system as a solution to the problems besetting the country, the true agenda behind Cha cha is the removal of economic sovereignty provisions in the Constitution which limit foreign ownership of land and external investments in certain vital sectors, and provide for nationality requirements in public utilities.

Executive Order on Cha cha

In the meantime, Beltran said that the Filipino people should stand united against the executive order GMA is preparing to release anytime soon to create the Citizens' Consultative Constitutional Commission (con-con) that would supposedly assist Congress in drafting proposed amendments to the Constitution. According to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the draft executive order is now on the President's desk.

According to reports, the proposed EO contains the criteria and the composition of the members of the constitutional commission. Defense Sec. Avelino Cruz and Interior Sec. Angelo Reyes were appointed by Mrs. Arroyo last month to lead efforts to tap the private sector for their proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution to pave the way for the federal-parliamentary system of government. The proposed commission would be composed of anywhere between 30 to 50 members, all representing various stakeholders and sectors.

“From all angles, it’s evident that GMA is using Cha cha as a means to save herself and distract the public from the political drama that is exposing GMA as a corrupt, inept and illegitimate president. Despite the non-existent demand for Cha cha, she and her allies are fast tracking Cha cha deliberations and projecting that there is an urgent need for it. The public, however, will not be easily distracted from the impeachment process and the rallies demanding her ouster,” he said.#


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