Land conversion, privacy rights

"It’s pro-growth, pro-poor, and pro-Filipino."



Together with the Foundation for Economic Freedom and other organizations, I strongly support and am in complete agreement with President Duterte in his call to streamline and expedite the process of land conversion.

Expediting land conversion is pro-growth, pro-poor, and pro-Filipino. It is a necessary step towards reaching our collective goals of being a high-income economy and the alleviation of poverty. Judicious and progressive utilization of land opens up vast opportunities to sustain the economy on a high growth path. 

Land must be devoted to its best use, one which will provide a higher yield and multiplier effect on the economy. Urbanization requires land for housing. Commercial and industrial pursuits require land, as well. To deny land for these purposes will create social and economic distortions, stunt growth, and adversely affect the quality of life of our people. 

I realize land is needed for agriculture, but the better approach to food security is to improve productivity with better inputs, farming methods, and support services. The answer is not more and more hectares or scale, but efficiency. In most industrialized nations, less than five percent of its people are in farming, yet they supply abundant food for domestic consumption with the surplus for export. 

I urge the government to free up land, particularly marginally productive and unirrigated land, for commercial, residential, and industrial purposes. Let’s unlock the full potential of our economy. 

I ask all citizens to assist in clearing the roadblocks for land conversion by supporting President Duterte in streamlining the land conversion process.

* * *

It is said that civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. A savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

Thankfully, the Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed the implementation of its Memorandum Circular No. 17 Series of 2018, which would have required all corporations to disclose their ultimate beneficial owner—defined as a natural person who ultimately owns or controls, or effectively owns or controls, the corporation—in their General Information Sheet or GIS. 

The circular is a flagrant attempt to violate our right to privacy. Not only should it be delayed, it deserves to be scrapped for being unconstitutional and anti-freedom.

The right to privacy, defined by US Justice Louis Brandeis as “the right to be left alone,”is described by RA 10173 as a fundamental human right, equal to the other fundamental human rights to freedom, equality, religion, the right against exploitation, and the right to constitutional remedies. 

So sacred is our right to privacy that our 1987 Constitution prohibited the State from violating it. It is an essential part of freedom, which every individual should protect. It is as precious as the air we breathe.  

The SEC, however, wants us to give away our right to privacy by requiring companies to disclose information, which under the Corporation Code need not be disclosed. The SEC is not a lawmaking body. It is tasked simply to execute our laws. There is no law passed that empowers the SEC to compel companies to disclose information not required to be disclosed by the Corporation Code or any law for that matter.  

Clearly, the SEC has no authority to require the disclosure of the ultimate beneficial owner of all corporations. This authority is reserved for Congress alone, and if the SEC persists in imposing this circular, I have no doubt that the courts will restrain its implementation and that Congress will ever pass such legislation.

And don’t we trust the government?

No, not always.

The problem is, we don’t place an infinite value on privacy. Sometimes we’re willing to give up some of it—to friends, doctors, companies with whom we want to do business. What we really should value is the freedom to choose when we’ll do that and when we’ll tell people and government to butt out.

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Topics: Eric Jurado , Land conversion , privacy rights
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