GMAs Signature Drive for Cha-Cha an Old Trick Bound to Fail: Ibon

Mar. 26, 2006

MANILA — Despite governments plans to gather at least 4.8 million signatures for a peoples initiative for Charter change (Cha-cha), people are likely to reject Cha-cha because history has proven that such moves are driven by self interests rather than the peoples welfare, says Ibon research director Antonio Tujan.

Former president Fidel V. Ramos had earlier attempted Cha-cha through the Peoples Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA) group, which aimed to gather 5 million signatures to change the Constitution. Deposed president Joseph Estrada also made a pitch to modify the Constitution under the Constitutional Correction for Development (Concord).

According to Tujan, both initiatives failed because they were met with overwhelming resistance by various sectors due to concerns over self-serving interests such as lifting of term limits and removal/weakening of economic sovereignty provisions in the charter.

People also still remember how the late president Ferdinand Marcos was able to influence the 1971 constitutional convention to draft a constitution that would propagate him in power. Marcos also amended the 1973 Constitution in 1976 to allow him to concurrently hold the position of prime minister and to exercise legislative powers.

Ibons January 2006 survey had earlier revealed that almost 65% of respondents who were aware of governments Charter change initiatives rejected such moves.

It is clear that the present Cha-cha initiative is no different from the failed attempts to change the Constitution, since it is driven by President Gloria Arroyos desire to perpetuate herself in power at least until 2010, in the wake of growing mass discontent against her administration, says Tujan.

The only Cha-cha that will be supported by the people is one that is truly driven by their economic and political interests and that which will bring about peace and genuine development. (Ibon)

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