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‘Tama na ang pambabarat sa mamamayan’

“Tama na ang pambabarat sa mamamayan, habang laging buhos ang pondo sa militar at sa mga gyera ni Duterte. Unahin ang serbisyo gaya ng edukasyon, hindi pasismo sa pangunguna ng NTF-ELCAC. Unahin ang ayuda, hindi CHA-CHA. Ito ang giit ng mga guro at ng mamamayan, at ‘yan ang dapat tugunan ng gobyerno.”Raymond Basilio, Secretary General, Alliance of Concerned Teachers

Muling pagsusulong ng Charter Change, mariing tinutulan

Nagtungo sa tarangkahan ng Batasang Pambansa ang iba’t-ibang grupo kahapon, Enero 13, upang tutulan ang muling tangka ng mga kaalyado ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na baguhin ang Saligang Batas.

Ayon sa Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, bukod sa economic provisions na nagreresulta sa 100% pagmamay-ari ng mga dayuhang korporasyon sa mga lupa at mahahalagang industriya sa bansa, nais din ng Charter Change o Cha-Cha na magkaroon ng term extension sa mga pulitiko mula kongresista hanggang kay Pangulong Duterte.

Farmers vow to fight ChaCha, 100% land ownership by foreigners

A farmers’ group said it will oppose efforts at the House of Representatives to tinker with the Constitution, saying charter change (ChaCha) will only benefit President Rodrigo Duterte as well as foreign powers and local political warlords.

In a statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the proposed 100% ownership of land by foreigners will worsen landlessness, poverty, and hunger among the majority of the Filipino population.

““The revived Charter change proposals will only make worse the current Constitution and will aggravate the situation of Filipinos now reeling from the effects and heavy burden of the pandemic and economic recession,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.

“ChaCha will also further bastardize the existing system of governance dominated by landlords and oligarchs,” Ramos added.

KMP is among the various groups that trooped to the HOR this morning as theHouse Committee on Constitutional Amendments is conducting a hearing on proposed revisions to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. 

The bill wanting to amend the Constitution was filed by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco he said is aimed at removing the remaining protectionist economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

Other proponents of the change, such as Ako Bicol Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr., said the protections in the charter make it difficult for the government to create more jobs and improve the economy, more so that it has been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The KMP however said the move aims to further open the local economy to the plundering of land grabbers and large foreign corporations.

“The economic and political repercussions of ChaCha will be irreversible. Filipinos must fight ChaCha attempts to the end,” KMP said.

The farmers added it is like handing the entire Philippines on a silver platter for foreign businesses to devour.

“We cannot allow foreign businesses to take over our land, natural resources, media, and strategic industries. We cannot be second-class citizens in our own country. With ChaCha, everything else will worsen for Filipinos,” the group explained.

KMP warned that multinational agricorporations such as Del Monte, DoleFil, Sumifru and other large plantations, as well as foreign mining companies, will further expand at the expense of farmers and indigenous peoples.

President Duterte also earlier said he wants changes in the Constitution to remove the Party List system and punish Leftist parties that have consistently won seats in Congress.

“All democracy and freedom-loving Filipinos must [therefore] resist Charter Change and Duterte’s tyranny,” the KMP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Stop the Attacks — United People’s SONA 2018

The broadest opposition forces ever assembled against the Duterte administration launched their own United People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, 2018 as Pres. Duterte delivers his third SONA before a divided Congress rife in factional power struggles backed by competing big businesses, domestic and foreign. With various performances, protesters slammed Duterte’s violations of people’s rights, called to stop the attacks and demanded justice.

Charter change creates illusion of change – Ibon exec

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. #

Threat of nationwide martial law still alive, Sison warns

The threat of a nationwide martial law remains with President Rodrigo Duterte’s constitutional reform advisers seeking ways to make it easier for its declaration, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said.

Reacting to a news report that a series of attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) may be grounds for the declaration of martial law under the government’s proposed federal charter, Sison said it is an indication that the threat continues to exist while Duterte is the president.

“Within the so-called Constitutional Commission, there is the drive of certain pro-Duterte elements headed by a retired general to draw up a draft federal charter that makes easier the declaration of martial law by citing ‘lawless violence’ or ‘a series of offensives by the NPA’ as the basis for the declaration of martial law,” Sison said in a statement.

Sison was referring to Ret. Lt. Gen. Ferdinand Bacobo, a charter change Consultative Committee member quoted in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report Wednesday that “lawless violence,” including NPA attacks that cause “widespread and extraordinary fear,” may be grounds for the President to declare martial law.

Saying such a move may not augur well for the resumption and success of the government’s peace negotiations with the NDFP, Sison said that instead of trying to scapegoat the NPA and make it the pretext for martial law declaration, state terrorism and fascist dictatorship, the Duterte regime should let its peace negotiations with the NDFP succeed in addressing the roots of the armed conflict and laying the ground for a just and lasting peace through comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) also said the proposal is dangerous, saying martial law should be considered as a drastic tool of last resort.

“In the first place, what is problematic is the absence of an objective standard for the conceptual meaning of what really constitutes terrorism or terrorist acts,” NUPL president Atty. Edre Olalia said.

“[L]awless violence can be addressed by the other powers like calling out the armed forces without suspending or compromising civilian rule, curtailing the exercise of basic rights, and denying legal remedies,” Olalia said.

Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao became a year old Wednesday, eight months after declaring it has driven the ISIS-inspired Maute group away from Marawi City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Davide hits charter change as ‘war against the environment’

By Kalikasan PNE

Calling the proposed charter change (cha-cha) a “war against the environment,” former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. said the constitutional amendments threaten a “catastrophic environmental crisis and grave intergenerational injustice.”

In his keynote speech in a public forum on the ecological implications of cha-cha held at the Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute last April 12, 2017, Davide said the lifting of the 60 percent Filipino citizenship requirement is potentially dangerous.

“[L]eaving it completely to Congress to provide a new rule, which could even include no requirement at all, would end up with the outright surrender of the natural wealth – and eventually even of the country itself – to foreigners, especially to foreign business conglomerates,” Davide said.

Davide said various doctrinal principles and rules on the right to environment, such as the jurisprudence of the ‘Oposa v. Factoran’ case on intergenerational justice and the Supreme Court’s Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases in 2010, “would be either put to naught or severely emasculated” by cha-cha’s proposed amendments.

He also noted that the proposed Federal component States or Regions, each “lorded over by enlarged or new political dynasties who may have their own business empires” would create new layers of corruption regarding the exploitation, development, and utilization of natural resources.

Kalikasan PNE photo.

In a unity statement released during the forum, the LUNTIAN (Lumaban sa Cha-cha, Ipagtanggol ang Kalikasan) coalition said that on top of allowing 100 percent foreign ownership, “timber lands, mineral lands, reclaimed lands, and national parks that have been exclusive for public interest will be reclassified to allow private ownership, making these critical ecosystems vulnerable to land grabs and monopolies by foreign capital and big business.”

They furthered that “cha-cha proposes to delete Article XVIII Section 25 which prohibits foreign military bases and facilities in the country. If approved, the conversion of our shoals such as in West PH Sea and Benham Rise into naval and air bases, including the storage of nuclear weapons and other dangerous war materiel on Philippine soil, will be legally free.”

The forum was organized by the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) in cooperation with the LUNTIAN Coalition, Miriam Public Education and Awareness Campaign for the Environment (Miriam PEACE), Green Convergence, Advocates of Science & Technology for the People (AGHAM), Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC), Nilad, UP Green League, and the No to Cha-cha Coalition.

The forum organizers announced that they will hold an ‘Eco-Walk’ on April 21, 6:00 to 9:00 AM at the University of the Philippines – Diliman comprised of environmental education activities such as bird watching, native tree walks, a museum walk, and an urban gardening workshop for children, to highlight what is at stake should cha-cha push through.#