Pamalakaya slams EU move to lift ban on 100 foreign ownership of land

Pamalakaya slams EU move to lift ban on 100 foreign ownership of land
EU told: “Don’t touch our lands”

The left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Thursday urged the European Union (EU) to quit from pressuring the Manila government from pursuing Charter Change to lift ban on foreign ownership of lands in the country.

“The European Union is committing a national political foul play in lobbying for the passage of Chacha that would lift the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of land. This country is not for sale; its lands are reserved for public ownership and for the common good of every hardworking Filipino. Please don’t touch our lands and quit from conspiring with the government over the national auction of Philippine lands to European business giants,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

“This diabolical economic agenda of the European Union will further exacerbate, complicate and worsen the problem of landlessness and agrarian injustice in the country. Are they trying to colonize this country through economic means under this era of globalization-led modern day slavery?” Hicap asked.

The Pamalakaya leader issued the statement, a day after former foreign affairs undersecretary Merlin Magallona warned lawmakers calling for the removal of nationalist economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution could be playing into the hands of the European Union.

Magallona, also former dean of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law said that the 27-member of the European Union had formally requested the Macapagal-Arroyo government under the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remove the ban on foreign land ownership.

The European Union also requested the government to allow foreign nationals, particularly lawyers to be allowed to practice in the Philippines, according to Magallona who was a guest speaker at a forum on Charter Change in UP College of Law on Wednesday.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap believed that the European Union wants the ban on foreign ownership abolished because the European Union would soon enter into a bilateral economic agreement with the Philippine government under the EU-RP Free Trade Agreement, where one of the major provisions is the removal of ban on foreign ownership of land.

“The Philippine government has been keeping the details of the EU-RP Free Trade Agreement away from the Filipino public and affected sectors and interest groups. This agreement will allow European transnational corporations to lease if not acquire agricultural lands and other productive lands from Filipino landowners,” he said.

“To set the record straight, the Philippine government is set to lease or sell some 1.5 million hectares of prime agricultural lands to foreign countries where the countries have entered a bilateral economic and trade agreement,” Hicap added.

According to Pamalakaya, foreign countries are allowed to lease if not buy lands from the Philippines under the following bilateral agreements—Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa), RP-China Agricultural Agreement, RP-South Korea Bilateral Trade Agreement, RP-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the soon to be finalized EU-RP Free Trade Agreement and the RP-US Bilateral Trade Agreement. “All these agreements require the Philippine government to lease or sell its lands to foreign corporations, and this is extremely dangerous to the 90 million Filipinos,” the group said. #

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