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Philippines: Charter Change is Arroyo's Cover-up

Democratic Left-Philippines | 12.12.2006 23:57 | Repression | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | World

AKBAYAN (Citizens Action Party) today stepped up efforts to derail attempts at the House of Representatives to initiate Charter Change (Cha Cha), calling the move as nothing more than an attempt to cover up the seething political crisis hounding Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

“There is apparently a move to discuss today and approve as soon as possible a draft of possible Constitutional changes that are as opaque in intent as they were haphazardly processed,” said Ronald Llamas, AKBAYAN President.

“Transitory provisions in the proposed constitution contain a possible no election scenario in 2007 and opens up the floodgates for term extension for incumbent officials,” Llamas said. “In a proposed plebiscite to either approve or reject the amended Constitution, people will be asked their preference to elect members of a new parliament by 2007 or 2010. If people choose the latter, those sitting now will be allowed to remain in power until parliamentary elections are held,” he explained.

At the same time, Llamas said, the proposed amendments to the Constitution ensure that GMA, “the very focal point of all the political imbroglio afflicting the country will be safely entrenched in Malacañang Presidential Palace even though surveys have shown that her removal from office is highly preferred among the public.”

Llamas contended that the draft House amendments to the charter are nothing but a reflection of the LAKAS (Power - the ruling party coalition) directorate's meeting over the weekend. “It's meant to solidify the ranks of the ruling party behind the ill-motivated call for charter change,” Llamas said, “to protect GMA's term and at the same time advance House Speaker Jose de Venecia's interests.”

He said AKBAYAN took to the streets to help inform the public “over the great deception that is going down in Congress once again,” he said. “LAKAS, de Venecia and GMA would have us believe that they are cooking up the solution to the political crisis and the engine of growth and rural development, but in fact they are just using government resources to shield their petty and narrow interests to keep them away from the rising tide of people's protest and dissatisfaction over their elitist and anti-poor governance.”


Super Typhoon Con Ass: Storm Signal No. 5 over Philippine Democracy

by AKBAYAN (Citizens Action Party)

The administration coalition in the House of Representatives, relying only on their superior numbers, brazenly railroaded the amendment to House Rule 105 allowing them to shortcut the process of legislating the resolution calling for Charter amendments via a Constituent Assembly (Con Ass).

Representative Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel of party-list AKBAYAN likened the bulldozing of the amendment to a looming super-typhoon that is about strike democracy in the Philippines. “Like super-typhoon Reming which struck the country last week, the super-typhoon Con Ass will hit the country in the next couple of days. The House Majority will not allow anything to stand in their way to ram through their self-styled Con Ass resolution – not legality, not even constitutionality. And like Reming the Con Ass will wreck everything that will stand in its path. It will destroy and damage whatever is left of our democratic processes and institutions” Hontiveros said.

Ronald Llamas, President of AKBAYAN Citizens Action Party said that clearly, the administration coalition is bent on raping not only the Philippine Constitution but also the other democratic institutions. The House majority, he said, will spare nothing and will blink at nothing in order to cater to the whims of Malacañang and ensure that they contribute to the survival of the besieged President. “Ramming through the Constituent Assembly resolution without the consent of the Senate as mandated by the Constitution is rape in its crudest form” Llamas said.

“Akbayan will join other forces in opposing Con Ass at all fronts – in the House of Representatives, in the Supreme Court and in the streets. We enjoin all Filipinos to join hands and act in defending the democratic gains we so painfully struggled for in the past decades and not stand idly by as Gloria and her allies in Congress force illegal and unconstitutional acts on the Filipino people for their self-serving interests” AKBAYAN party-list Mayong Aguja stressed.

December 6, 2006

Rapists of the worst kind

by Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)

The brazen attempt of the House of Representatives to change our constitution by means of a constituent assembly explicitly shows how putrefied and corroded are the moral fiber of our lawmakers. They now join the ranks of US soldier Daniel Smith convicted of rape because of the same “bestial acts” they are now committing against the people by railroading a flawed and undemocratic way of changing our constitution just to stay in power.

This is the worst kind of abuse. House Speaker Jose De Venecia’s Congress and the Filipino people do not have a consensus on this initiative. This is not a consensual act of supposed partners. In fact, a majority of our people are resisting and struggling against Congress’ scheme to convene unilaterally as a Constituent Assembly to change our constitution to satisfy their own caprice.

The truth of the matter is that this is a one-sided act of a decaying institution with the political sponsorship of Malacañang to pillage whatever progressive character our current constitution has and rule the people in a new, yet despotic constitutional set-up with Mrs. Gloria Arroyo, Jose De Venecia and their cohorts as our supposed leaders.

Truly, the words of Judge Benjamin Pozon regarding his decision on the Subic Rape Case aptly applies to our mad legislators and the pretend president riding the Con-Ass Express. He said: “Rape is chilling naked sadism. It is marked by the savagery and brutality of the assault on the helpless victim.”

Now we ask, what is more sadistic than for our legislators to prioritize their narrow political fancies over the genuine interest and welfare of the people? What is more brutal and savage than for our government to badger us with endless maneuverings on Charter change while they spit on the face of our fellow citizens gravely devastated by a super typhoon and in the end mock their dead?

Without doubt, they are rapists of the worst kind. While the nation celebrates the conviction of US soldier Daniel Smith, the most horrible rapists pretending to be representatives of the people are organizing a sick orgy to change the constitution to please the overlordship of a make-believe president. This must stop.

We now call upon the Filipino people to once again unite and defeat the evil upon us. Let us defeat Gloria and Jose De Venecia’s Con-Ass. With enough strength and determination, the genuine interest of the Filipino people will prevail. The wicked and the unrepentant must be duly punished.

Derail the Con-Ass Express!
Social change not Charter change!
Oust the bogus Arroyo Regime!

6 December 2006


The State has become the very obstacle to its obligations to human rights

by Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)

The recent approval of House Bill 1450 which gives the House of Representatives the right to convene themselves into a constituent assembly even without the approval of the Senate smacks of political skullduggery and muddles the real reason behind House Speaker Jose De Venecia’s and other legislators’ intent of railroading the plan to change the charter.

It is political skullduggery because of the apparent conspiracy between De Venecia and majority members of the House to take advantage of a vague provision in Article XVII, Section 1 (1) of the 1987 Constitution which fails to clarify whether the three fourth votes needed to amend or revise the Constitution should come from the two houses of Congress voting as one body or as separate entities.

Because of the vagueness of this provision the majority ushered a semblance of “substance” to their arguments for the passing of HB 1450. Arguments that from the onset were proven correct not by its logic or by legality but by a sheer command of numbers that De Venecia and the majority played to a hilt.

Such blatant display of the “tyranny of the majority” supplants the very essence of democracy and the rule of law. Democracy should not only be based on the caprices of the majority but by a society dictated by laws and reason. What we have in Congress is no different from mob rule.

De Venecia and the majority, in spite of all their avowal that they are merely fulfilling their duty to the people, is a total disregard of the utmost reflection of the people’s sovereign will.

Herein lies the crux of the matter. What we have in our country is not a government that is guided by laws, but a government that is controlled by politicians who twist and change laws to further their own vested interests. What we have is a government that is cloaked by the mantle of legality but in reality operates with impunity.

The culture of impunity is seen not only in the actions of De Venecia and the legislators who voted in favor of H.B. 1450 in spite of its unconstitutionality; it is also laid bare in Malacanang’s decision to remand custody for Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to the U.S. government in spite of the decision of our court which found him guilty of the crime of rape. Impunity is the very reason why our government has failed to provide justice for victims of political killings, involuntary disappearances, and other human rights violations.

Under this context, the State has become the very obstacle to its obligations to human rights. The culture of impunity has permeated every aspect of the Arroyo government such that it has become a license for the wanton commission of violations and omission of State obligations.

As a response to this situation the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) enjoins all human rights defenders and peace loving-people of the land to consolidate our ranks, be more critical of the current condition and mobilize the broadest possible number of communities and people into a united movement that will address the different aspects of impunity and state repression. To this end PAHRA shall devote its efforts to realizing its rallying call amidst these troubled times - Resist State Repression; Defy a Coercive Environment and Break the Culture of Impunity!

Saturday, 09 December 2006


APL holds symbolic deathblow to Congress over ConAss tricks

by Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) trooped to the House of Representatives today to denounce the chamber for its railroading of charter amendments through constituent assembly.

"The audacity with which Congress could easily set into motion a process to amend the Constitution is appalling," said APL Secretary-General Josua Mata. "It is so easy for these lawmakers to put bills on workers' rights in the back burner, and short-circuit democratic processes to legislate illegal measures that will serve no interests other than their own petty and parochial selves."

Mata explained that the majority of congressmen railroaded a change in their own rules that would have required a con-ass resolution to go through the Senate first.

"Obviously it's a display of naked self-arrogated power that will not stand the Constitutional principle of checks and balances between branches of government," Mata said.

"Now the House is poised to railroad a set of secret proposals that the public has not even been made aware of," added Mata. "including revisions of economic protection clauses in the Constitution that will further erode workers' rights to collectively bargain and strike."

"Clearly there will be no winners in this deadly game the House is playing except GMA and her cohorts who have used every dirty trick in the book to evade accounting for cheating during the 2004 elections," warned the veteran labor leader.

"This bullying of democracy does not come without a price tag. Reports have already indicated how administration congressmen were handed out pork barrel allocations in exchange for attendance and voting during the plenary discussions on the con-ass resolution," Mata added.

"In other words, taxpayers are footing the bill for this ultimately anti-people exercise."

"It is high time to deal Congress a deathblow and push onward for the institution of a society in which it is the interests of the poor and marginalized sectors that are at the forefront of our collective concerns," said Mata.

"It is time to to disinfect Congress, take out the garbage and junk the rotten insects that plague its halls and put in place a truly reformist government that is revolutionary in approach to addressing the real issues that demand attention immediately, such as poverty and joblessness," Mata urged.

December 8, 2006

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