Pres. Duterte won’t support Charter change if land will be sold to foreigners

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has said he is open to the proposal to touch the economic provisions of the Constitution except for the selling of lands to foreigners.

During a two-hour talk with a business group late Monday in Malacanang, President Duterte said he will support Charter change even if Congress will reverse the 60/40 percent foreign ownership provision.

“Maybe, I said, the equity can be increased to reverse, 60-40 or 70 if it’s a foreign corporation. But to sell the land, I will not. For the life of me, I will not agree to that. I will lose my country to foreigners,” the President said.

President Duterte explained that the Filipinos, most of them are poor, might be tempted to sell their lands to the world’s superpowers like China and United States.

“With the growing economy of the super giants, China and the rest, you know, they can always come here and buy the land and they can buy the whole of Tondo and relocate there and we’ll have with nothing and everything sold,” the President said.

“At this time of our financial life and civilization, you can easily sell the land even for a pittance. It would come to other people almost as free and then what happens? Where will I go if everything is already owned?,” he added.

Last week, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 10 creating a 25-member consultative committee that will review the 1987 Constitution.

The committee shall study, consult and review the Charter provisions “including, but not limited to, the provisions on the structure and powers of the government, local governance and economic policies.”

The panel has six months to complete its recommendations and proposals which will be submitted to President Duterte before it will be transmitted to Congress.

Expected to be included in the recommendations and proposals is the shift of the form government from presidential to federal with a prime minister and a president.

President Duterte said federal form of government is the solution to the long decades of armed conflict in Mindanao.

“If we do not adopt federalism, there is no way that peace can be attained in Mindanao, now or in the future,” he told the business leaders.

The President said he is ready to step down if Congress can craft a Constitution creating a federal form of government even midway of his six-year term.

“If they can craft a Constitution creating a federal setup, a country, and providing for a strong president just like the type which France has, then I am willing to step down without waiting for the six years,” he said.

President Duterte said he already instructed Senate President Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to hasten the shift of government to federalism.

“That’s why I said for those who are asking for my ouster, do not dream about it. If you do not like me, go for the federal type and you are freed of my presence in government,” he said.