Senator Win Gatchalian said agricultural lands and indigenous people’s domains should not be covered by any changes in the Constitution that would allow full foreign ownership of lands in the country.
“While we support policies that would attract foreign investments to help underpin local economic growth, we should not allow the displacement of our local farmers and our indigenous people,” Gatchalian said.
The senator emphasized this point in response to a statement from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) asserting that amending the Constitution might expose an estimated 14.2 million hectares of alienable and disposable public lands to 100% foreign ownership, citing data from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.
According to Gatchalian, disenfranchising farmers from tilling agricultural lands would lead to bigger problems for the country as it would worsen food insecurity, noting that the country is already a net importer of major agricultural products, including rice and other important commodities.
“Hindi natin mapapayagan na mapigilan ang mga magsasaka sa pagtatanim dahil magdudulot ito ng pagkagutom ng marami. Taliwas ito sa inaasam-asam natin na pag-unlad ng buong bansa,” he said.
He further emphasized that the displacement of indigenous people from their domain would lead to housing problems and could lead to unrest in far-flung areas. He said indigenous people usually play an important role in the conservation of land, which is an important factor in the fight against climate change and goals of building resilience to natural disasters.
Gatchalian earlier said he fully supports discussions on amending the 1987 Constitution but such talks should be limited to economic provisions.