MANILA, Philippines – The Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination staged a protest in front of the House of Representatives on Monday to denounce the proposed Charter change (Cha-cha) under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The proposed Cha-cha would likewise pave the way to a shift to a federal form of government which Duterte has been pushing for.
During the protest, Sandugo co-chair Jerome Succor Aba said the looming revision of the 1987 Constitution and the planned shift to federalism are nothing but a “total sell-out” of the country’s national patrimony and sovereignty.
For members of the national minorities like him, these proposed measures would also lead to the diminution of their collective right to self-determination.
“Ang unang panawagan ay upang i-rehistro sa Kongreso ang pagtutol sa Charter change dahil ito ay total sell out ng aming lupaing ninuno at teritoryo ng mga national minorites at upang singilin din ang rehimeng ito na pinayagan si Duterte mag-deklara ng martial law sa Mindanao, gayon din ang patuloy na extrajudicial killings and trumped up charges sa ating mga kasama,” he told Davao Today.
(Our first call is to register our protest against Charter change because it is a total sell out of our ancestral land and territory. We are also taking to task this regime for letting Duterte declare martial law in Mindanao. Likewise, we are protesting the extrajudicial killings and filing of trumped up charges being done to our colleagues.)
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, who was also present at the protest, pointed out that the indigenous peoples are one of the most vulnerable sectors which would be affected by the Cha-cha.
“Kung titignan ang proposals sa House in relation to Cha-cha, ang kalakhan nun ay ibukas ang ating national patrimony for more foreign exploitation and control. Ang target talaga tanggalin ay ang economic provisions ng 1987 Constitution, and open-up our economy to foreign interests,” he said.
(Most of the proposed amendments by the House of Representatives in relation to charter change involves opening up our national patrimony for more foreign exploitation and control. The real target is to remove the protectionist economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution and open up our economy to foreign interests.)
The 1987 Constitution currently safeguards the country’s land and resources from foreign control, but Sandugo said in a statement, the proposed measures to amend the Constitution “opens up Philippine lands and territory to 100% foreign ownership and unbridled exploitation of natural resources.”
“The national minorities are the biggest victims – our ancestral lands and territories rights are violated; resources are plundered and the environment destroyed,” it said.
“Now, Duterte’s chacha removes all barriers for the foreign ownership and brazen exploitation of land and resources. Whatever will remain as token recognition of our collective rights as national minorities in Duterte’s chacha will be rendered insignificant,” it added.
The progressive group likewise said Cha-cha would decentralize political powers to different regions — a move that would benefit existing political dynasties.
The proposed Constitutional amendment, Sandugo said, would also make a dictator out of Duterte.
“While building the a new federal system, the President and his political allies will extend their terms to nine years more,” it said.
“Already, President Duterte has been drawing its claws with fascist repression against the Filipino people and the national minorities who are asserting their rights and welfare. Another nine long years only empowers him and his fascist military minions to suppress legitimate struggles,” it added.
Proposed bills seeking to amend the Constitution are currently being deliberated in both chambers of Congress. (davaotoday.com)