By April Burcer
The proposed constitution creating a federal Philippine government is President Rodrigo Duterte’s response to a growing discontent against his government, Ibon Executive Director Jose Enrique Africa said in a forum at UP Diliman Thursday afternoon.
“There is a limit to flattery, to disrespect, to insults, to bullying and to terrorizing. It underscores what this charter change is all about. It becomes important for Duterte to push the charter change because of this sort of discontent,” Africa said.
Africa explained that the more disgruntled and dissatisfied the people are, the more Pres. Duterte needs a new Constitution to create the illusion of change.
Contributory to growing discontent against the Duterte government is the lack of genuine economic growth, Rosario Bella Guzman, another IBON executive, said during the think tank’s Midyear 2018 “Birdtalk”.
“[The government says] we have the highest growth rate in Asia, with 6.8 percent. The truth behind that highest growth rate [however] is joblessness, poor quality of work, very low wages and 5,460 Filipinos leaving the country everyday to look for work,” Guzman said.
“Imagine this scenario, and then you slap the TRAIN Law, so now we also have the highest inflation rate,” she added.
Cha-cha’s major flaws
Africa said Duterte’s charter change and drive for federalism have three major flaws.
The first flaw, he said, is the concept of an ‘imperial Manila’ where so-called wealth distribution would emanate from.
“What resources are they going to redistribute from imperial Manila? Are we that rich? No. There are a lot of poor people in Manila,” Africa said.
The second flaw, he said is the need for a new Constitution to redistribute resources.
“Even [former chief justice Ma. Lourdes] Sereno said there are enough laws in place and legal bases to distribute resources, authority and responsibility to the regions,” Africa added.
The third flaw is the government’s refusal to change its anti-poor policies, according to Africa.
“Our policies are pro-elite and anti-people. It’s not about imperial manila versus the poor regions. The main contradiction is the elite vs the poor Filipino,” he explained.
In the end, the government’s charter change is not about federalism, national development and for redistributing resources to the poor regions, Africa said.
“Federalism is about political self interest,” he said. #