Foreign investments scrutinized

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By Fe San Juan Hidalgo

Citizen Fe

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

THERE are two items in our dailies that mention about foreign investors planning to establish their business in Davao. They are interesting on the part of our citizens so I decided to scrutinize the issues. The first is the declaration of Mayor Rudy Duterte on assuring investors from Malaysia and Singapore interested in putting up oil palm plantations in Davao, in Marilog and Paquibato, which will help the city with its food and fuel products. The second is the proposed retirement facility in Davao City of World Class Retirement Complex Inc. (WCRC)'s Healing Garden of Asia in Catigan, Toril, Davao City. It will be known as the Most Outstanding Retirement Plan in Asia starting this year. This will grant 300 million dollars to finance a retirement village for ageing Japanese. It will be called Eagle's View - Mountain Resort and Residences. These offers need a critical study by all the Filipinos as a national concern.

There are lessons learned which should serve as guidelines in evaluating the positive and possible negative effects of foreign investments. There are always noisy rallies attendant to this of pros and cons citizens. I am for a fair hearing from both sides before a final decision is done. Experts and experienced statesmen and the general public, the citizens, must be heard. There must not be an obvious self-vested interest on the part of the foreigners. The benefits must be equal to both participants of an approved pact or agreement. Remember the Spanish regime? We have unpleasant memories of this. Under them, we were servile and were called indios. They owned vast tracts of land. They ruled and we practically lost our self-esteem as Filipinos in our own country. We had 300 years of this unpleasant situation. Then came the Americans in 1946, after the second world war when they liberated us from the Japanese' short-lived conquest.

Filipinos still remember the American Parity Law and the Bell Trade Act of 1946. These gave USA the rights to have military forces in our land and a free hand to have commercial and industrial access to our businesses. We became highly westernized in all aspects. These were proven unfair in many instances, military bases, mining, and big business deals materialized. At least these were terminated or amended
to favor us. Now, 2014, we have the EDCA approved for the next 10 years and may be extended. This is the Extended Defense Cooperative Agreement between USA and the Philippines. There was much noise again among the activists groups; but the Pact stays. Personally, I am for a friendly ally deal with USA. It is a political move true to all the family of nations on earth. The crux of the matter of foreign invasions is this: We have to keep our sovereignty in our own land. No nation must take advantage of us in enjoying our patrimony and heritage wealth in our own land and seas.


Now, I will expound on the merits and possible bad effects of the first issue, the oil palm production by foreigners here. The advantages of this proposal are obvious. This will employ many natives in the hinderlands of the districts, the IPs are included. They will learn the modern techniques of planting to produce more fruits. Palm oil can be used to produce food and fuel, two vital needs of our people. They are ingredients of food rich in minerals, vitamin A. Palm oil is known to prevent cancer, brain diseases, high cholesterol, aging, high blood pressure, treating malaria, weight loss, enhancing total body metabolism. Organic waste matter in processing palm oil like the shells of seeds and the branches are used as biofuels. Blended palm oil with other elements produce biofuels.

Other uses are in the manufacture of cosmetics, soap, toothpaste, waxes, lubricants, and ink. Now, the seeming disadvantages are here but these can be solved by proper management of the forests where oil palm trees are grown. These are displacement of IPs (indigenous people), degradation of forests, damaged watersheds, water pollution, soil erosion, and nutrient depletion. A must is this- there must be equal sharing of all the gains of the products harvested. Farmers must have sufficient salaries, healthy working conditions, and fair treatment at work. If all of these problems are resolved then the investment can be approved.

Much of the merits of the second investments were fully explained by the stake holders. These were explained by my co-writers here. I am fully impressed and all praises for the venture. All named stock holders and preferential occupants are foreigners. It even stated that no local company took part in the investing group deliberation. There were many groups of locals in the assistance levels. They were impressive, too. The long range plan starting with the Japanese retirees managed by a Japanese is ongoing now. The article also mentioned Americans, Europeans will follow. At the tail end of the list are the locals, possibly meaning Filipinos. We, the citizens, want this cleared. What are we to gain in this venture? Is this venture for our advantage to gain equal gains or profits from the use of our land? Will Filipino retirees be given the same preference in this World Class Retirement Complex Inc.? We will wait for the answers from the investing foreign company. Are they just renting our land. I read in the article of my colleague that Davao City was chosen because of its great natural endowments for health, peace, and serenity. We will wait for the answers to be convinced that we can permit this foreign venture to establish their company in our city. You can even correct me if I am wrong.

For comments text cp no. 09202112534.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 08, 2014.


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