Lawmaker backs foreign media ownership under Cha-cha

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Lawmaker backs foreign media ownership under Cha-cha
The photo shows Rep. Rufus Rodriguez at the House of Representatives.
Rufus Rodriguez / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — An ally of President Marcos in the House of Representatives has expressed support for amending the 1987 Constitution, which he said should include “foreign investments in mass media” as long as management is left “exclusively” to Filipinos.

At present, Article XVI Section 11 of the Constitution provides: “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly owned and managed by such citizens.”

But Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of Pampanga wants this provision to be “rewritten” to make media ownership limited to Filipinos with at least 60 percent share, and that management should be left to their expertise.

“This amendment means that mass media will remain to be majority-owned and controlled and run
 exclusively by Filipinos, with foreign ownership to be limited to 40 percent,” explained Gonzales, whose proposals are contained in a memorandum submitted to the House committee on constitutional amendments chaired by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

One of his other proposals is to allow foreigners and foreign corporations, associations and entities to own land not exceeding five hectares, provided they use it for manufacturing or trading activities.

Also, he proposes to leave to Congress the discretion on relaxing the present 40-percent foreign participation limit on the exploitation of the country’s natural resources by inserting the phrase, “or as may be provided by law” in Article XII Section 2.

Gonzales is also suggesting that Congress be allowed to create autonomous regions in other parts of the country by amending Article X Section 15 on Local Government, which provides that such regions be established in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.

He said the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s development – 7.5-percent economic growth – shows that “additional autonomous regions could be created as this could be of great help in the country’s economic expansion.”

Bato wants party-list abolished

If the Constitution were to be amended, Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa aims to remove the party-list system, which he considers a redundancy of representation and instrument of abuse in Congress.

“We have district representation. The party-list system has been abused,” Dela Rosa, speaking in Filipino, said when interviewed by ANC yesterday.??He said that while the party-list system was intended for the underrepresented community sectors or groups, such as labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous people, women and youth, its design allows politicians or the wealthy to abuse the system.

By giving his opinion, Dela Rosa said he hopes his legislator-friends in party-list groups would not get mad at him.

Also, the senator clarified that while he wants to amend the 1987 Constitution, he is still “50-50” on supporting Charter change (Cha-cha) because many senators seem uninterested in it.

“While I want it, I see it will be an exercise in futility on my part if I will insist. We really won’t get numbers in the Senate,” said Dela Rosa.

Some senators said restrictive economic provisions contained in the Charter have already been addressed by recently enacted laws like the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act and Foreign Investment Act.

President Marcos himself said foreign investments could still trickle in without amending the Constitution.

Poll: 77% favor Cha-cha

Meanwhile, three framers of the 1987 Constitution who became Supreme Court justices, several business groups and foreign chambers of commerce, among others, have endorsed unequivocally the revision of the 36-year-old fundamental law of the land.

As per Rodriguez, 77 percent or 424 of the 552 respondents they asked are in favor of Cha-cha.

He revealed in his sponsorship speech to the House plenary last Wednesday that 20 percent of them, or 109 “reactors,” have manifested their objections to attempts aimed at amending the charter, while a minuscule 19, or three percent, have abstained.

A good majority of them, 41 percent or 226 respondents, preferred the Constitutional Convention (Con-con) route; 16 percent or 91 of them wanted constituent assembly (Con-ass); 14 percent or 77 went for the people’s initiative mode while 29 percent, or 158, gave no preference.

Out of these experts and organizations consulted by the Rodriguez panel, 56 percent (or 310) favor “economic” amendments, a measly four percent (24 respondents) indicated they want “political” modifications while seven percent (38 people) want “both” amendments.

Thirty-three 33 percent or 180 respondents want changes “outside” of the two.

Among the legal luminaries who gave their thumbs up were retired chief justice Reynato Puno and retired justices Vicente Mendoza and Adolf Azcuna – all respected constitutionalists – who helped frame the Freedom Constitution in the post-Marcos Sr. era.

Meanwhile, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) will be joined by other activist groups in holding mass actions to protest moves to amend the 1987 Constitution on Saturday, the 37th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

In a statement, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said they will specifically protest efforts in the House to revise the Constitution through Con-con.

“There seems to be a lack of understanding of history in these Charter change efforts. We distrust these initiatives because we have learned the bitter lessons of dictatorship. Every time the initiative is meant to prolong the stay in power of the ruling elite, we drift closer to dictatorship,” Reyes said.

“As for the lack of genuine change 37 years after EDSA, this cannot be attributed to the 1987 Constitution. The absence of genuine change can only be attributed to the same ruling classes who have been in power since. These are the same ruling classes that have allowed the Marcoses to return to power in 2022. Don’t blame the Constitution for our woes,” he added.

Reyes said that while it appears that the President will not declare the EDSA People Power anniversary an official holiday, their group will continue to go out to the streets to commemorate the bloodless uprising that toppled the dictatorship of his late father and namesake.

“EDSA does not deserve to be marked with deafening silence. It should be commemorated with a fiery commitment to achieving genuine freedom and democracy. Its lessons remain valid today as we collectively confront a second Marcos regime,” Reyes said.

Other activist groups coming out on Saturday are the Movement Against Tyranny, Campaign Against the Restoration of the Marcoses in Malacañang, ML50, Movement Against Disinformation, Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties, Tanggol Kasaysayan, One Voice, Babae Laban sa Katiwalian, Project Gunita, 1sambubungan, Movement for Good Governance and Genuine Democracy, Sandugo and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Elizabeth Marcelo

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with