Mindanaoans Told: Cha-Cha Will Bring Out the Best in Pinoys

Apr. 26, 2006

The people of Mindanao should take the lead in the campaign to amend the Constitution and shift to a parliamentary-federal form of government, says Joji Ilagan-Bian

TAGUM CITY — Constitutional reform will bring out the best in Filipinos.

So claimed Charter Change Advocacy Commission chairman Lito Lorenzana yesterday, Tuesday, as he and three other AdCom members explained their proposed amendments in a symposium here attended by members of grassroots organizations.

“The elements in the proposed Charter change — parliamentary form, federalism and economic liberalization — will bring about a positive change in the way we Filipinos live our daily lives, Lorenzana said. It will bring out the best in business and economic trade. It will bring out the best in political governance.”

To this, Gov. Gelacio Gementiza of Davao del Norte retorted: “Our province is Cha-Cha (Charter change) country.”

He announced to the audience — composed mostly of farmers, fisherfolk, feminists, religious leaders and laity, students and local government officials — that in Tagum City and Davao del Norte, 15 percent and 24 percent respectively of the voters have signed up for the ongoing people’s initiative for a switch to parliamentary form of government.

“There were already seeds of Charter change during the time of Ramos and Estrada. I think the time for it to flourish is now,” Gementiza said.

The AdCom members who came to Davao City Wednesday were divided into two teams. The team of Lorenzana, secretary general Rita Linda Jimeno, and commissioners Carmen Pedrosa and Liberato Laus proceeded to Tagum City. The other team, composed of commissioners Joji Ilagan-Bian, Raul Lambino and Ronald Adamat, went to Koronadal and General Santos City.

In the Tagum forum, Pedrosa talked about the features of a parliamentary government. She discussed how a parliament will make for more personal administration of local problems by elected officials. “You can be sure that your elected local officials will know about your province’s problems, and you can ask him to do something about it,” she said.

Tagum Mayor Rey Uy remarked in Visayan: “Charter Change is long overdue. There is no perfect Constitution and the 1987 Constitution is no exception.”

He said “the Constitution should be able to adapt to the needs and call of the times, especially in this time of rapid development in technology.”

Meanwhile, Compostela Valley Governor Jose Caballero was thankful that members of the Charter Change Advocacy Commission showed up to personally explain the importance of amending the Constitution.

He was also glad over the multi-sectoral presence of people who joined the symposium.

This is a very timely and very important issue. It concerns our lives, our future and our country, Caballero said.

In Nabunturan, the team saw wide multi-sectoral participation coming from the academe, students, indigenous peoples, local health workers, business, religious groups, among others.

Amadeo A. Lamzon, president of the Provincial Federation of Peacekeepers, vowed to support the Charter Change information drive down to the barangay level.

Village leaders in all barangays in Compostela have been organized as local peace-keepers, he said.

I will now take part in convincing and making people understand the charter change, he said.

Antonieta Macabani, an officer of the Indigenous Peoples Provincial Consultative Body, said she no longer had a problem with signing up for the peoples initiative campaign in support of Charter Change.

I didnt sign (the Peoples Initiative signature campaign) because it was not clear to me and I didnt fully understand it. I was concerned over what would happen to our ancestral domain, she said.

Explaining the lifting of economic restrictions, Laus, one of the commissioners, assured Macabani that land opened to foreign ownership would only be those classified as commercial, industrial and residential.

He said the commission had among its members an IP representative looking after the welfare and interest of Lumads.

There is nothing to fear over ownership of land by foreigners. The Parliament shall continue to provide necessary safeguards. Foreigners cannot speculate on this because we will be regulating it, he said.

Meanwhile, Mindanao should be taking the lead in the Charteer Change campaign, said Commissioner Joji Ilagan-Bian. “Now is the time to move it or we might have to wait another century,” she said, explaining that that Mindanao had been pushing for Constitutional reforms even before the current people’s initiative.

Bian challenged Mindanaoans to take the lead in educating the other areas of the country about Charter Change.

Speaking in a press conference for the AdCom at the Apo View Hotel here this week, Bian said that since the 13th Philippine Congress in 1998, Mindanao has taken the position of amending the 1987 Constitution, specifically, in shifting to a federal structure of the country.

Bian also cited the initiatives made by the Lihuk Federa lMindanao in disseminating information regarding constitutional reform since four years ago. Lihok Federal Mindanao is a coalition of political leaders and private groups advocating a federal Mindanao.

Pedrosa said the Adcom strives to address the lack of information regarding the proposed Constitutional reforms and on perceived flaws of the 1987 Constitution.

She said that “the bottom line — informing the people, be they in the academe or factories, in the street or homes — is true democratic process at work. Now, if the people do not make an effort to really get involved by getting the available information, that is already a failure in democracy.” (Philippine Information Agency)

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