A position paper prepared  by IDEALS   (Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services )      

            Thirty-one separate agreements. More than one million hectares of agricultural land. Private Philippine corporations with questionable legal personalities. A serious threat to Philippine food security. Prejudicial and unconstitutional terms.

Will we truly benefit from the RP-China Agreements or are the Filipino people being forced to bear the burden of surrendering our sovereign rights so that we can grow and breed products that are only truly MADE for CHINA.

            With serious urgency, we call upon the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Energy to stop the implementation of these highly questionable agreements. We insist on a full public disclosure of the actual and signed contracts. We demand that these agencies protect the Filipino people from gravely prejudicial and unconstitutional provisions.

            We also call upon the Senate and the House of Representatives to conduct separate inquiries on these agreements to protect a pro-Filipino national development policy. As representatives of the people, it is your duty to ensure that the Filipino people are not giving away too much for too little.

            The RP-China Agreements cover a broad range of obligations, which include questionable financial grants and concessional loans, the undue removal of technical but protective barriers to trade, Chinese investment through the lease of more than 1.5 million hectares of Philippine land, aquaculture and all-around marine fishing, and the utilization of Philippine lands to establish bio-fuel plants to be produced for Chinese consumption.

            On several grounds, we seriously oppose the implementation of the RP-CHINA Agreements.

No prior consultations were conducted.

           

            Despite its intention to cover a massive area of agricultural land and the marine environment, no prior consultation was made with the farmers and the fishermen whose lives depend on the land and the sea. Majority of the contracts were signed in the presence of only the representatives of private corporations. Until this day, it remains unclear as to which province and which group of farmers and fishermen will be directly affected by the implementation of the contracts.

            The Constitution establishes and protects the right of the people and their organizations to participate effectively and reasonably at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making. Why were the farmers and the fishermen excluded from the negotiations? Why were they not consulted?

There was a denial of the right to information.

            Until this day, the concerned departments have not published or distributed copies of the final, actual, and signed agreements. Several attempts to get a copy of these public documents have failed.

            Representatives from the DA have attempted to make excuses for the non-disclosure of information by saying that these contracts are private contracts. This is a misleading and inconsistent statement. The DA, DENR, and the DAR are actual parties to the contract. Their representatives have specific and actual obligations pursuant to the contract. Even Sec. Arthur Yap acknowledges the fact that the government has specific obligations which include the location of lands to be leased out to Chinese investors.

            We call upon the government to uphold the public’s right to information and the State’s declared policy of public disclosure on all matters affecting public interest. If the contracts are truly beneficial to the Filipino people, there is no need to hide the specific details under a veil of secrecy.

For the Filipino people or for a chosen few?

            The RP-China Agreements are constantly being lauded as great investment opportunities for the Filipino people. We seriously contest this declaration. Is it really for the benefit of many or were these contracts entered into for the benefit of a chosen few.

            We urge Congress to inquire and determine if the agreements comply with the provisions of our Constitution and to look into the legal personality of the Philippine corporations involved in the different agreements. It is highly questionable that a majority of these corporations were registered only after they signed their respective agreements.

Name of Philippine Corporation

Signed the Agreement On:

Registered with SEC On:

  1. Philippine China Fisheries Consortium
  1. Palawan Bioenergy Development Corporation
  1. One Cagayan Resourece Development
  1. B.M.S.B Integrated Bio-fuels Company
  1. Negros Southern Integrated Bio-fuels Company
  1. Philippine Marine Technology Group Inc.
  1. Sun Warm Tuna Fishing Corporation
Nvember 27, 2006January 15, 2007January 15, 2007

January 15, 2007

January 15, 2007

December 3, 2006

January 16, 2007

January 16, 2007December 4, 2006July 6, 2006

No record file with SEC

No record file with SEC

No record file with SEC

No record file with SEC

            Why were these investments not given to duly registered Philippine corporations? Surely, there are countless Philippine corporations that need additional capital investments. What is the reason and the criteria for giving these investments to corporations that, at the time the agreements were signed, were not even registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission?

            We urge Congress to help the Filipino people find answers to these urgent questions.

Agri-agreements violate the Constitution

The MOU with Fu Hua Corporation allows it to lease one million hectares of land which is “lawfully owned by the Philippines.” The lease shall be for a period of 25 years; renewable for another 25 years.

If the lease contract involves alienable lands of the public domain, the Chinese corporation is disqualified from entering into a lease agreement on said lands. Nevertheless, even on the assumption that Fuhua Co. is qualified to lease lands of the public domain, said lease must be limited to only 1,000 hectares of land and only for a period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years.

If the coverable lands are private lands, the DA, DAR, and the DENR as the Second Party to the MOU with Fu Hua Corporation, do not have the authority to bind themselves to the MOU’s provision that supposedly allows them to “lease out the identified land.” Being non-owners, they cannot comply with that obligation and the decision to lease out the lands remains at the hands of the landowners.

If indeed the lands to be covered involve CARP-awarded lands, we call upon the DA, DENR, and the DAR to disclose to the public the specific contracts to be signed by the ARBs. It is common experience in contracts of this nature that the ARBs are left without sufficient legal support thus making them vulnerable to prejudicial contract terms and obligations. Said contracts must comply with the requirements of law. The DAR, DA, and the DENR must also publish the list of areas to be covered by said contracts.

Despite several statements to the media, our government agencies have not been consistent in explaining the nature of the lands to be leased out.

RP-China Agreements: A Serious Assault Against Agrarian Reform

            The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program is far from being fully accomplished. 1.6 million hectares of land remain to be undistributed. In the RP-China Agreements, our government agencies are contractually-bound to look for more than one million hectares of land to be leased out to approximately five Chinese corporations. 1.4 million hectares of land to 5 Chinese corporations. Is this not a serious assault to our Philippine Constitution? Is this not a clear violation of the policy behind the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program?

            If these lands are alienable lands of the public domain (agricultural lands), is it not the Constitutional and statutory duty of the government to distribute these lands to qualified agrarian reform beneficiaries instead of leasing out these lands to foreign corporations? Will the one million hectares of land come from the 1.6 million hectares of undistributed CARP land?

Iiwanan na po ba ng gobyerno ang CARP kahit na ito ay isang mandato ng ating Saligang Batas?

            If these are awarded CARP lands, why were the beneficiaries not consulted before the agreements were signed? Why were the agreements signed by representatives of private Philippine corporations? If these lands are to be leased out, are there not specific guidelines and laws that strictly regulate such contracts? It is a serious mistake to easily use the “private contracts” excuse.

            These are serious legal questions with urgent implications on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. These are serious legal questions with serious economic and social implications to more than 10 million Filipino farmers and their families.

            Shouldn’t we be taking these agreements seriously? Shouldn’t we be disturbed by the continuous excuse of our government representatives that these contracts are merely private contracts? What is so private about public lands? What is so private about lands that have been awarded pursuant to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program?

RP-China Agreements: Surrendering Philippine Marine Resources to Foreign Corporations

The MOA between GDOFA and BFAR, and other private contracts allow all-around cooperation in aquaculture, fishery products processing, marine fishing, and aquatic products and fisheries necessities trading.

The MOA does not indicate limitations to these so-called exchanges and cooperation in marine fishing. Operative guidelines as regards the actual operations to be pursued in line with the MOA do not exist. However, despite the lack of clear guidelines, the parties to the contract have deemed it effective upon the date of signing.

We seriously contest this agreement. The Constitution mandates that the State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. Our Fisheries Code expressly prohibits foreign marine fishing. By allowing Chinese participation in foreign marine fishing, through a contract of all-around cooperation, the contract violates a specific provision of the Constitution and the Fisheries Code.

It is unconstitutional, illegal, and anti-Filipino. These contracts must not be implemented.

Fishery Agreements Threaten Philippine Food Security

            Aside from being unconstitutional, the all-around cooperation contemplated in the different fisheries agreements is a serious threat to Philippine food security.

 The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 specifically provides that it is the policy of the State to achieve food security as the overriding consideration in the utilization, management, development, conservation and protection of fishery resources in order to provide the food needs of the population. It also emphasizes that “a flexible policy towards the attainment of food security shall be adopted in response to changes in demographic trends for fish, emerging trends in the trade of fish and other aquatic products in domestic and international markets, and the law of supply and demand.”[1]

Despite a continuous decline in the Philippine’s fishery resources and the corresponding difficulty to provide the domestic market with fairly priced products from the sea, the government nevertheless binds itself to provide for the needs of a foreign country. Are these investments really for the Filipino people or are we entering into a highly prejudicial and unconstitutional agreement that was Made for China.

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IDEALS, Inc. joins the urgent and collective call against the implementation of the RP-China Agreements. We demand full public disclosure of the contract details. We demand answers from those who served as middlemen and brokers of these highly unconstitutional, prejudicial, and dangerous contracts.

We expect the Congress to do its job of protecting the Filipino people. We urgently call for a Senate inquiry as regards these contracts. We call for a comprehensive review of the specific provisions. We want an urgent decision to stop the implementation of these contracts.

The RP-China Agreements are not just “private contracts.” These are dangerous but contractual threats to our lands, our seas, and our lives.

See http://rpchina.blogspot.com/

for IDEALS’ comprehensive discussion of all legal issues relevant to the RP-China Agreements

IDEALS is not affiliated with BISIG. Posting of the statement in this website is done for the wider public to be informed about the RP-CHINA agreement. Thanks to IDEALS.  


[1] Section 2 (a), R.A. 8550- The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998