Frustrate last push to pass Cha-cha!
In a bid to beat the national elections, the US-Duterte regime is growing exceedingly desperate in its obsession with the enactment of Charter Change even in the midst of the pandemic. In their newest stab to pass it, the bicameral committee report on proposed amendments of the Public Service Act was hurriedly signed this Feburary before the 18th Congress session ends. Through these amendments, previously protected economic arenas shall be open to 100% foreign ownership even without Charter Change.
Before this, through its ally Cong. Alfredo Garbin, Ako Bicol Partylist representative, Duterte’s camp has been lobbying for the Senate to automatically adopt the lower house’s version of Cha-cha before sessions end.
NDF-Bikol maintains that the people’s rejection of Cha-cha is tantamount to their disavowal of further poverty and oppression. The said proposal offers up the territories, resources and riches of the land to the complete plunder and siphon of big foreign capitalists, until the whole national economy falls under imperialist control entirely. The torrent of foreign investments will kill the local agriculture and budding industries in the country.
In Bikol, Cha-cha will worsen the stunted growth of local agriculture caused by bogus land reforms such as CARPER and other neoliberal policies. Land conversion will proceed even more expeditiously, paving the way for foreign investments while pushing the full liberalization of agricultural products. The backward agriculture in the country will certainly lag behind the rush of foreign competition. This shall further bury the Filipino people dependent on agriculture further into debts, complete bankruptcy and loss of lands and livelihood.
Even without Cha-cha, the regime has already been pushing for the excessive importation of products that overwhelm the local produce. Last August 2021, the importation of 60,000 tons of galunggong (roundscad) was approved to augment the supposed shortage of fish products in the local market. Before this, proposals to import pork, vegetables and other agricultural products were also approved. But these did not result to the decline in price hikes. Instead, these directives only put local products into further detriment.
This is even more sinister as the public knows that the government has never given local producers any substantial support. In Catanduanes, abaka farmers are still having a difficult time recovering from the damage wrought by Typhoon Rolly in 2020. According to the Fiber Industry Development Authority (FIDA), the province’s abaka production weakened to 11,000 MT in 2021. This is just half the average 22,000-23,000 MT production of the province in the past. But despite their hapless situation, Duterte’s Abaca Rehabilitation Program only allocated a meager P70 million to be divvied up for 13,777 beneficiaries. Furthermore, abaka farmers who are not title owners nor registered are not eligible for the aid.
NDF-Bikol challenges all Bikolanos to persevere in the struggle for the people’s rights and interests. They must exhaust all means to prevent all attempts to railroad Cha-cha while the public is preoccupied with Covid-19. The people’s solid unity is needed to foil all policies, laws and proposals such as Cha-cha. To fight Cha-cha is to defend the victories achieved by the masses in their struggle for their rights and welfare.