Proposed changes to constitution’s national patrimony provisions
Posted by butalidnl on 6 October 2006
Charter change proponents say that their proposed amendments (or “revision”?) to the Philippine constitution will help push national development. In addition to the supposed benefits of a unicameral parliament to national development, the proposals also included changes in the “national patrimony” provisions of the 1987 Philippine constitution. Which specific provisions are they proposing to change?
There are actually three sets of charter change proposals. They are the: House of Representatives proposal, the proposal coming from the Consultative Commission (ConCom), and the People’s Initiative proposal. The most comprehensive set of “national patrimony” changes are put forward in the ConCom proposal, while the Peoples Initiative proposal does not deal with the question directly. Let us start with the ConCom proposal.
The ConCom proposed to change the following national patrimony provisions in the 1987 Constitution:
1. “The state shall protect Filipino enterprises against unfair foreign competition and trade practices” (Article 12, Section 1) has been deleted.
2. On the exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources(including marine wealth). The 1987 Constitution reserves the right to undertake these activities to Filipino citizens or corporations/associations/cooperatives which are 60% owned by Filipino citizens. The proposal is to allow foreigners to do these activities. It is also proposed to increase the period of lease of such lands from 25 to 50 years.
3. On reserving certain areas of investments to Filipino citizens or corporations/associations at least 60% Filipino-owned. The proposal is that the parliament shall merely “provide for limitations on foreign ownership” in these areas of investment.
4. The provision in Article 12, Section 10 that says “In the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos. ” has been deleted.
5. On the operation of public utilities (Article 12, Section 11) . This is now limited to Filipino citizens or “associations or corporations organized under the laws of the Philippines” (actually, there is no real limitation on foreign ownership here!) This is to be deleted.
6. Article 12, Section 13 which states: “The State shall pursue a trade policy that serves the general welfare and utilizes all forms and arrangements of exchange on the basis of equality and reciprocity.” is to be deleted.
The House proposal is generally the same as that of the ConCom for points #1-3 above, except in two details in #2. The House proposal retains the period of lease for public lands at 25 years. It also reserves the exploitation of marine resources to Filipinos.
The House proposes to retain the original 1987 Constitution provisions for #4, 5 and 6 above.
As for the Peoples Initiative, it formally does not touch on the national patrimony provisions at all. However, in its Article XIII or “Transitory Provisions” , Section 4, Number 4. it states “Within forty days from the ratification of this amendment, the interim Parliament shall convene to propose amendments to, or revisionof, this Constitution consistent with the principles of local autonomy, decentralization and a strong bureaucracy.” With this provision, the Peoples Initiative effectively paves the way for the Constituent Assembly mode of revising the constitution. It also shows that other proposed changes to the constitution, including those on national patrimony, are waiting on the sidelines of the Peoples Initiative.
Thus, in the end, what really matters would be either the House proposal or the ConCom proposal – at least with regards to the national patrimony provisions.