When Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) was ratified, I think we have already sold our country piece by piece. Imagine being the toxic burial place of the Japanese. just like liberalizing our trade in agricultural products, we have also opened our doors for zero tariff on waste to b dumped here in our shores. Economic in expense of what?
Sadly, our fellow Mindanaoan legislator who holds an important position in the Congress--being a house Speaker, (Davao, 1st District) Rep. Prospero Nograles aims to open Mindanao for investors. The catch, we have to let these foreign investors to have a full ownership of our lands. He passed House Resolution 737 . It assails the constitutional provision, particularly sections 2 and 3, Article 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution on national patrimony by allowing foreign investors to operate vast tracts of agricultural lands. Furthermore, plantations which are under labor administration, cultivated, and developed for exports crops, and it will be excluded from Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) Compulsory Acquisition scheme. He claims that for 20 years of CARP implementation, Mindanao has not moved on. He claims that
“Many people are still poor in Mindanao because of the insurgency problem and we have an insurgency problem because there are no investments coming in to help the poor. We have been trapped into this kind of situation for long a time now and there’s nothing we can do about it just because of two provisions in the Constitution"
What a myopic analysis of the problem. Insurgency is a product of landlessness, of unequal distribution of wealth and resources, Mr. house Speaker. He added that by repelling the ownership restriction of the Constitution, it would be possible for Mindanao to move forward because of investment especially coming from Arab investors. He also added that
“Arab investments can be best situated in Mindanao because the insurgency problem in the region is mainly Muslim-related. I think that even members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf will not attack any Arab investment."
Wow! Is that how you view the Mindanao situation? Is that your solve all remedy to the historical injustices committed to our Lumad and Moro brothers and sisters and continuing poverty in the island?
Mindanao is continually hailed as the country’s food basket wherein we contribute 45 to 60% of the national export economy. Ironically, only few rural elites carry this basket, while millions of members of rural poor population filled it up. Being a land of abundance, the stark reality remains that six (6) out of the ten poorest provinces nationwide is here.
Rank Probinsiya Rehiyon Poverty incidence
1 Tawi-Tawi ARMM 78.9
2 Zamboanga del Norte Western Mindanao/ Zamboanga Peninsula 63.0
3 Maguindanao ARMM 62.0
4 Apayao CAR 57.5
5 Surigao del Norte Caraga 53.2
6 Lanao del Sur ARMM 52.5
7 Northern Samar Eastern Visayas 52.2
8 Masbate Bicol 51.0
9 Abra CAR 50.1
10 Misamis Occidental Northern Mindanao 48.8
Source: Philippjne Poverty Statistics, National Statistical Coordination Board.
Not until poverty and inequalities are addressed, insurgency will continue. Giving full ownership to the foreigners will only compound the already very complex problem.