October 19, 2018
QUEZON CITY – Protests in several key cities and urban areas were held today to condemn the Resolution of Both Houses No. 15 (RBH No. 15), a new version of proposed changes in the Constitution sponsored by House Speaker Gloria Arroyo, along with 21 other lawmakers.
“Duterte has long since harped on Cha-cha and federalism as the solution to the misery and poverty of the Filipino people. But with RBH No. 15, his ulterior motives are brought to the fore. Their version of Cha-cha is self-serving to say the least. It would not address the urgent concerns of the workers and the poor – skyrocketing inflation, starvation wages, contractualization, the continued defunding of social services in the national budget,” Partido Lakas ng Masa Coalition (PLM Coalition) spokesperson, Leody de Guzman said.
He added, “RBH No. 15 paves the way for a more liberalized plunder of the national economy and the nation’s coffers, by foreign monopolies and political dynasties. It is an evil spawn – a Cha-cha, ‘nak – between Gloria Arroyo - a rabid pro-capitalist economist before she became president - and Rodrigo Duterte - the warlord from Davao and current resident of Malacanang”.
Deleted: Prohibition on political dynasties and term limits of public officials
The labor leader explained that RBH No. 15 removed the prohibition on political dynasties after failing to enact an enabling law to implement the ban on dynasties for more than three decades.
“Without this, voters will be forced to choose the lesser evil among political clans, or between rival siblings of a ruling dynasty, in the upcoming May 2019 elections,” he expounded.
The RBH No. 15 also junked the prevailing term limits for public officials. “The term limit brought discomfort to political dynasties as they were forced to transfer position to their spouse or their children in order to maintain in power. The Duterte-GMA Cha-cha sought a Gordian Knot solution to this overriding concern of political dynasties”.
Deleted: Entire articles on “National Economy and Patrimony” and “Social Justice and Human Rights”
The RBH No. 15 also junked the entire section of the Constitution on “National Economy and Patrimony”. De Guzman said, “The spirit of the prevailing highest law of the land is ‘the Philippines for Filipinos’, hence the 40% limit on foreign corporations in select industries including their ownership on our resources – natural and man-made. This view is obsolete for neoliberal economists like Gloria Arroyo. Now, as if the liberalization of the local economy is not enough, they want a more liberalized set-up to entice more foreign investors to own our country. This proposal is very dangerous, if not treacherous, especially with the expansionist drive of Chinese capital, particularly in Southeast Asia”.
The labor leader, who is also running for the senate, elucidated, “Even though the 1987 Constitution has defects, it has an entire article on ‘social justice and human rights’ it gave recognition to structural injustices in Philippine society. Hence, the creation of an entire article containing the rights of labor, agrarian reform and natural resources, urban land reform and housing, health, women, and the role of people’s organization, in order to protect the majority poor from abuses by the rich and the powerful”.
“Yet, the existing Charter merely granted a nominal recognition to these rights because political power remained concentrated in the hands of the elite. The civilian population is virtually taken out of the political sphere in between elections. In RBH No. 15, some of these rights are scattered throughout the proposed constitution. But without recognition to the principle of social justice and the existence of structural injustices, these rights become ineffectual and illusory”.
Member organizations of PLM Coalition held protests in several cities Friday against RBH No. 15. The mass actions, held in Manila, Laguna, Negros Occidental, Leyte and Cebu, also highlighted the urgent demands on gut issues such as the call for price control on all basic commodities, the scrapping of the TRAIN Law, abolition of contractualization, the enactment of a P750 national minimum wage and the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law.