Lawmaker: Cha-cha to favor foreign mining companies

MANILA — A member of Congress cautioned on Friday that renewed talks to amend the 1987 Constitution may result in the detriment of mining communities and local players.
Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño said this after House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile are set to tackle the pending proposals on Charter change (Cha-cha) before the President’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 23.
The progressive party-list legislator pointed out that watering down the provisions on land ownership and foreign investments is sure to favor foreign mining firms.
“While Executive Order (EO) 79 provides mere band aid solutions to the problems of the mining industry, Cha-cha will aggravate and worsen it by allowing foreigners to further exploit mineral resources that is supposed to be reserved for Filipinos and used for our own industries,” he said.
President Benigno Aquino III signed EO 79 over the weekend imposing a moratorium on new mining permits until Congress revises mining tax laws.
Casiño stressed that the proposal to give aliens 100 percent ownership to land, public utilities, and natural resources is “a recipe for disaster given the festering problem of landlessness.”
“Even the supposed economically booming countries do not allow the same extent of liberalization. Thailand requires 51 percent Thai ownership of its public utilities such as electricity and energy; Australia requires 65 percent Australian ownership of its telecommunication; Brazil requires 49 percent Brazilian ownership of its lands,” he said.
The chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, meanwhile, clarified that everything is still debatable at this point.
“Not possible for 100 percent land ownership. What was proposed is ownership of exclusive industrial land only,” Misamis Occidental Representative Loreto Ocampos and the House committee chair said in a text message to Sun.Star.
In a hearing last year, the House panel discussed eight possible revisions in the Charter, which include the scrapping of the 60–40 percent equity limitations, and extending the 25 + 25 land lease agreement.
Casiño also said that Congress should not be distracted by issues that are not urgent like Cha-cha and instead focus on proposed laws that would improve the lives of ordinary Filipinos citing measures that seek to reduce the cost of electricity and other utilities. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

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Mimosa Golf Estate, Clark Field (Clark Airbase), Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga, Philippines
Tel: (045) 599-5600 0922-870-5194 0917-520-4401 Ask for Daniel, Lito or Cosh

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