September 23, 2005

Selling out

The expose on the Venable LLP lobbying contract has once more highlighted the sell-out of national interests by Malacañang to a treasonous degree, since it involves opening up the Philippine Constitution to foreign, specifically US, intervention.

Mrs. Arroyo, from all indications, has knowingly opened the way for the US to interfere in the rewriting of the basic law of the land with effects wide-ranging and far-reaching. It is only the latest in a long string of anti-Filipino and even treasonous acts that nationalists aver the Arroyo administration is guilty of.

What is the Venable LLP contract all about? From page 1 of the $75,000-monthly deal between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the US law firm Venable LLP, it states that “As part of this representation (of Philippine interests in the US)…the Philippine government has identified specific tasks…which Venable will undertake and use best efforts to accomplish.” Number 1 task is "(s)ecure grants or congressional earmarks for support of the Charter Change initiative of the President of the Philippines, which would reshape the form of government in the Philippines from its current structure into a parliamentary federal system..."

Other lobbying tasks given by the Arroyo government to Venable, including the creation of “a capability enhancement program” for the Armed Forces and the acquisition of up to $800 million credit under the US Defense Loan Guarantee program, only constitute embellishments that cover up the main purpose of the deal; that is, to secure US official policy and financial support for the Arroyo-Ramos-de Venecia “charter change” ploy.

Everyone knows that the “cha-cha” formula Mrs. Arroyo wants to foist on the people is one in which she is able to hold on to power despite unprecedented calls from a wide cross-section of Philippine society for her to step down. In fact, Speaker de Venecia confirmed this in a recent talk at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative US think tank, where he said that Mrs. Arroyo has three options under a charter change scenario.

First, she can indeed cut her term and not run in 2007. Second, she can cut her term and seek a new mandate for the presidency in 2007. Third, she can opt to continue her term until 2010, but call for parliamentary elections in 2007 and name a prime minister.

Clearly, charter change is useful to the Arroyo-Ramos-de Venecia ménage-a-trois for a most self-serving and obnoxious end -- to perpetuate Mrs. Arroyo and her clique in power.

The Venable contract to facilitate Charter change is all the more outrageous and condemnable because scarce government funds are being used to encourage foreign interference to take place at a very fundamental legal and political level, the country’s constitution.

The US and other foreign chambers of commerce as well as various US government instrumentalities have already stated that they wish to see the removal of all restrictions in trade and investment that hamper the entry of their goods, services and capital. These in turn are the few remaining provisions that tenuously uphold and protect national and economic sovereignty and territorial integrity.

One of the most controversial proposals is to allow foreign nationals to own property and operate businesses in the country the same as Filipinos. This is tantamount to saying foreign monopoly capitalists will be given the right to own the land, exploit our natural resources and run local commerce and industry with Filipinos merely as their employees and beggarly consumers since they have the capital and resources to take over the country.

The 1987 Charter provisions against the entry of foreign troops and bases as well as the entry of nuclear weapons of any kind into Philippine territory are legal obstacles to unhampered military operations of the US armed forces in the country that the US wishes to be rid of. This is so despite the fact that such constitutional provisions have been effectively circumvented by the Mutual Defense Treaty, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Mutual Logistics and Services Agreement (MLSA).

The Philippine government’s subservience to US foreign policy combined with such charter amendments are a surefire formula for the country to be further dragged into US military adventures including wars of aggression and intervention as exemplified by the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

No less ominous are the implications of a rightward shift in the US after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Heretofore sacred rights of citizens to due process and other constitutional rights have been simply set aside on the ground of “homeland security”. We must take note that domestic versions of the US Patriot Act in the form of various so-called anti-terrorism legislation are being pushed by the US on its allies including the Philippines.

The constitutional guarantees to civil, political and democratic rights in the 1987 Charter that resulted from the impetus of the anti-dictatorship struggle are thus expected to be under attack by Charter change proponents and their foreign sponsors. Though these are for the most part observed in the breach by government and has not prevented continuing gross violations of the people’s human rights by state forces, they remain written sentinels to freedom that self-respecting democrats and the people as a whole must struggle to retain, if not enlarge.

The impeachable offenses of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in relation to her regime’s kowtowing to US vested interests in order to shore up her grip on power are even more reprehensible and condemnable than her having stolen the presidency through systematized electoral fraud.

The broad movement to oust GMA has the responsibility of bringing this truth to the fore, to remove the layers of neo-colonial mis-education and official deceit that continues to hide the truth from most of our people.


23-24 Sept. 2005


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