Why the biggest crooks are pushing for Cha cha economic reform
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-12-11

The ambassador of an important European country shared with me this observation about our country: “More than anywhere else, over here the obvious is not what it seems to be.”

Ambassadors should be the most knowledgeable when it comes to seeing through diplomatic facades. Behind the smiles and polite answers they receive, they are trained to spot the truth and recognize the real situation prevailing in the country where they are assigned.

The layers of deception that one has to wade through here could well apply to the so-called economic reform being peddled with Charter change (Cha cha) in the light of this alarming piece of information that was shared with me recently by a national security and intelligence local expert.

Essentially, what this national security and intelligence expert told me was this — some of the country’s biggest plunderers, very possibly in league with jueteng and drug lords, are pushing for the proposed economic reform in the planned Charter change which pertains to allowing foreigners to own land in the Philippines.

The source said that many of the legislators as well as the other persons representing various sectors who are pushing for the proposed economic reform are not even aware of the insidious agenda and the cast of police characters in this play.

At first, I thought that the idea was preposterous. That is because I failed to see the connection between plunderers, jueteng and drug lords and foreigners or foreign firms being allowed to own land here.

However, when the information source started elaborating — it did strike a live wire and started to make sense. What follows is what the national security and intelligence expert outlined.

1. The recent collapse of Lehman Brothers and the other big financial institutions panicked those with big hoards being stashed abroad. In fact, several opinion writers have mentioned (though this remains to be confirmed) that a favorite usual suspect lost over P20 billion in the Lehman Brothers collapse.

2. The financial team of a big plunderer felt that their hoard was perhaps better placed here in the Philippines through front companies organized and registered overseas. They are more familiar with the terrain here compared to the prevailing situation overseas where they do not know anymore which financial institution is still stable and won’t collapse.

3. Their plan also calls for taking advantage of the negative effects of the global financial crisis and buy blue chip Philippine companies that may be sold at a bargain price. They will follow the dictum that the best time to invest is when there is blood on the streets.

4. Furthermore, their hoard, if invested here under front companies that have been organized and registered overseas, will be welcomed and even extended the usual incentives that are offered to foreign investors.

5. Having been organized and registered overseas, these front companies will not be accessible to local graft and corruption crusaders.

6. Owning some of the best blue chip firms in the Philippines will give them respectability and economic clout which they can translate to political muscle.

Now that explanation got your Chair Wrecker really thinking. If you try to see things as these plunderers, jueteng and drug lords would likely see it from their point of need under the prevailing global financial turmoil — the plan would seem very logical and appealing.

In a previous column, I disagreed with the proposal to open land ownership to foreigners. I felt that with their wealth the Chinese and South Koreans can end up buying the bulk of choice real estate here and raise the price to a level few Filipinos can afford. Already we’ve been getting reports that front companies are buying a lot of land through Filipino dummies — tolerated by the government.

Besides, what will attract foreigners to invest here is not the privilege to own Philippine land. It is good governance, the rule of law, a predictable judiciary, peace and order, a climate of industrial peace, infrastructure that is at par with ASEAN competitors, affordable energy and political stability. None of these will be delivered by the proposed Cha cha economic reform. All these can be delivered under the present Constitution if the present Constitution is followed by a competent and honest government.

Allowing foreigners to own land here will not make them overlook that we do not have good governance, the rule of law, a predictable judiciary, peace and order, a climate of industrial peace, infrastructure that is at par with ASEAN competitors, affordable energy and political stability. Offering foreign investors the privilege to own land is like offering to donate your liver to one who needs a kidney transplant.

China and Vietnam do not allow foreign investors to own land but they get the bulk of foreign investors in Asia. There is a good lesson to learn there — something our policy makers have not yet figured out.

The greatest tragedy that can hit Filipinos now is to expect salvation with that proposed economic reform — only to end up with our economy being controlled by those who plundered and pillaged our country and those who operated jueteng and sold our children illegal drugs.

Beware the Greeks giving gifts warned Cassandra when the Trojan Horse was offered. The Trojans did not heed their princess-seer and became an extinct nation.

Filipinos should beware when the greedy offer us economic reform.

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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