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Charter change may lead to ‘tidal wave’ of onerous gov’t contracts – Bayan Muna

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Bayan Muna Party-list Cong. Ferdinand Gaite has warned that the proposed amendments in the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution would only lead to more onerous contracts in public enterprises.

“We could be bracing ourselves for a tidal wave of onerous contracts similar to or even worse than the now highly publicized scandalous deals with Maynilad and Manila Water,” said Gaite.

On Wednesday, the House Committee Constitutional Amendments discreetly approved a resolution seeking to amend the 1987 Constitution by lifting the current economics restriction provisions and elevate to five years the fix term of elected officials.

Gaite cautioned his colleagues in the House of Representatives over the proposal to unlock foreign restrictions in the present charter by the introduction of the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law.”

Gaite said opening the doors to more foreign investment through lifting the economic restrictions would be very disadvantageous to both the consumers and national minorities.

“We’ve already seen the detrimental effects of opening up public service to business interest, and now they want to do it on a grander scale, involving foreign businesses,” said Gaite.

According to Gaite, areas to be potentially opened to full foreign participation and ownership are in the use of land and natural resources, use of marine wealth, control of public utilities, mass media and advertising, and educational institutions, among others.

“If this amendment gets through we would see our public services turned into super-profit generating, 100 percent foreign-owned enterprises. We would be fully at their mercy,” said Gaite.

The still unnumbered Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) specifically seeks to amend Articles 6, 10, 12, 14, and 16 of the current charter and it will have to be approved by three-fourths of both House of Representatives and the Senate, voting separately.

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