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DAR asked to strengthen protection of farmers vs foreign investors

A member of the majority bloc in the House of Representatives urged the Department of Agrarian Reform or DAR to intensify its campaign in delivering its land tenure security programs to protect the welfare of farmers.


Valenzuela City Congressman Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian issued the call after expressing fears that moves to amend economic provisions in the 1987 Constitutions could make farmers lose their jobs.


“The government should strengthen its social protection in terms of land tenure security as the liberalization of foreign land ownership in the proposed economic Charter Change may threaten the work of local farmers,” Gatchalian said.


“Dapat ‘yung gobyerno magkaroon ng comprehensive plan tungkol d’yan,” he added.


Gatchalian was referring to Joint House Resolution No. 1 that seeks to ease the foreign restrictions by amending the provision granting 60-percent ownership to Filipinos and 40-percent on foreign investments in the 1987 Constitution.


The resolution, which was authored by House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., is currently under plenary debate while its version in the Senate, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, is still pending at the committee level.


Should the proposal be approved, Gatchalian said the Philippines is not yet ready for the liberalization of foreign land ownership because of its weak social protection in providing securing of land tenure.


“Madaling mabibili agad ang mga lupain sa mga probinsya ng mga dayuhan. They can easily offer these local farmers two or three times ng evaluation of the property price,” Gatchalian said.


“In the short term, kikita ang mga farmers that’s why maraming farmers will sell their property but in the long run, dahil very weak ang social protection natin as of now, these farmers will become jobless,” he added.


Having sold their land, Gatchalian said, these local farmers would have the tendency to migrate to the metropolitan areas in search of jobs.


The lawmaker said this imminent migration of jobless local farmers to urban areas would severely damage our economic growth as it would cause overcrowding in cities, unmitigated regional development and disruption in the agriculture sector.


Gatchalian also called his fellow legislators to consider the interest of local farmers in their deliberation of the proposed economic Charter change.


The lawmaker said members of the Congress should pursue a long-term and evenly distributed development in relax limitations on foreign investments in the country.


“If we aid our farmers by investing in agriculture like providing loans and building vital infrastructure, we will not only help them sustain their livelihood but create jobs as well,” he said.


“Lahat tayo naman gusto natin ng development but we want it to be for the long run and to extend it not only to Metro Manila, but to other regions in our country. We want to pursue a carefully planned and equal development.”


Aside from liberalization of foreign land ownership, Gatchalian, however, said he welcomes the other provisions in the economic Charter change as it would allow more investments that will boost the number of jobs and transactions in the country.


“We have the most restrictive constitution in the region kaya sa ibang provision ng economic Charter change sumasang-ayon ako, especially on the utilities and big ticket items,” Gatchalian said.


“Dapat papasukin na ‘yung ating mga foreign investors sa ibang industriya para dumami ang magkatrabaho dahil ‘yan naman ang isa sa mga end goal ng gobyerno,” he added.


HR No. 1 passed the committee level last March and has been set for plenary debates from the June 13 to August 27 in the House of Representatives. (Tim Alcantara)