By Raïssa Robles
Those against changing the 1987 Constitution – the fruit of the 1986 Edsa PeoplePower – intend to mark the 32nd anniversary of people power by staging protests.
Last Tuesday, a core group from the civil society, the academe and political NGOs gathered in Malcolm Hall at the University of the Philippines College of Law.
I covered the event and made a short video below:
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The group which calls itself the No to Charter Change Coalition – but which my journo-hubby Alan dubbed The Rebel Alliance – issued the following statement below.
I am publishing it in full because personally, while I believe in charter change and much more decentralization of government, I do not believe IN THIS CHARTER CHANGE FOR THE SAME OBVIOUS REASONS.
Uphold democracy, sovereignty, social justice and human rights! No to Charter change! No to Cha-cha Coalition
February 13, 2018
WE, individuals, groups and institutions of freedom-loving Filipinos;
RECOGNIZING that the Constitution, while not perfect nor unchangeable, is the result of our people’s historic struggle against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy, social justice and human rights;
ALARMED that the current efforts to revise the Constitution are inimical to our cherished freedoms and aspirations, among them proposed amendments that:
- are patently self-serving for incumbent officials, such as postponing the 2019 elections, extending their terms of office, and enshrining the discredited pork barrel system in the Constitution itself;
- break up the country into regional states that will add a new layer of bureaucracy, red tape and political largesse while expanding the powers of entrenched political dynasties and warlords;
- establish a dictatorship, with immense powers given to the President during the transition period;
- delete or water down progressive and protectionist provisions on the national economy and patrimony, including limits on foreign ownership of land, public utilities, media and educational institutions, and preference for Filipino enterprises and professionals;
- delete or water down provisions on social justice and human rights, particularly the right to security of tenure and a living wage, agrarian reform, and urban land reform and housing;
- limit the exercise of the people’s sovereign will to mere suffrage, and the freedom of the press, free expression, assembly and redress of grievance to its “responsible” exercise;
- delete or water down provisions prohibiting foreign bases, troops, facilities as well as nuclear weapons;
AFFIRMING that the legitimate issue of the uneven distribution of wealth and power between the national and local governments can be effectively addressed without resorting to Charter change;
AWARE that in the past, such self-serving, undemocratic and unpatriotic plots at Charter change were defeated by widespread public outcry manifested in sustained protests and timely legal actions;
HEREBY RESOLVE to oppose – utilizing all democratic means possible – the current efforts to amend or revise the Constitution;
WE LIKEWISE RESOLVE to form ourselves into a Coalition with a nationwide constituency in order to consolidate and intensify our efforts to oppose Charter change at this time;
FINALLY, WE CALL ON OUR PEOPLE to remain vigilant and be involved, to participate in various activities including mass actions against Cha-cha and dictatorship, and stand for democracy, sovereignty, social justice and human rights.
Congress has opted for a constituent assembly that leaves out citizens in the crafting of a new charter on which rests the essential aspects of Philippine democracy.