Carvajal: Played for fools

It is critical to the nation’s inclusive development because it insures that power is not exercised by the wealthy elite alone and economic benefits are not exclusively enjoyed by them. Yet, the 1987 Constitution’s ban on political dynasties has remained a paper ban.

Our lawmakers, who are either members or proxies of political dynasties, have refused to enact an implementing law. Understandably they refuse to enact a law that stands to loosen their grip on the country’s political and economic control levers.

Much earlier, members of political dynasties framed and inscribed in our 1935 Constitution provisions expressly prohibiting foreigners from owning land, from participating in the exploitation of the country’s natural resources and limiting foreign capital in the public utilities sector.

These restrictions, unlike the ban on political dynasties, are favorable to our lawmakers who, more so before than now, had a monopoly of local businesses and of the country’s land resources. No wonder these provisions have all this time been strictly adhered to with a surfeit of implementing laws.

All three restrictions, however, have been detrimental to the country’s economic progress. Proof of this is the glaring fact that neighbor countries that allow their economy to be more liberally boosted by foreign investments have all passed the Philippines in the economic highway where it sputters along, woefully slowed down by the insufficiency of capital, by the lack of innovation, and by the inefficiency of monopoly local capital.

The move for economic cha-cha to remove these restrictions should, therefore, be welcome. Yet, so far it has been a bust. Senators, who own local businesses and vast tracts of land, are understandably lukewarm towards it. How much flimsier can they be in hiding their reluctance to erase those provisions than by refusing to act on it for lack of time?

The House of Representatives, at first glance, would appear to be interested as they passed a bill (RBH2) revising the economic provisions. Yet all they did was add to the three restrictive provisions the clause “unless otherwise provided by law.”

If they cannot enact an implementing law to a constitutional ban that goes against their interests, how can they now enact laws that provide otherwise to constitutional bans that promote their interests?

This means that for the ban on political dynasties to be implemented and for the restrictions on foreign capital to be removed, we must have proportionate representation in Congress and constitutional revision should be by way of a Constitutional Convention, not by Congress acting as a Constituent Assembly.

Otherwise, oligarchs who control Congress will keep playing us for fools.