Marcos admin’s Cha-cha efforts ‘most dangerous’ to date


A HUMAN rights lawyer and activist has labeled the push for amendments to the 1987 Constitution under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the “most dangerous” one to date, saying that Charter change (Cha-cha) could allow private companies to operate public utilities such as water, electricity, transportation, education and communication.

Neri Colmenares, chairman of Bayan Muna, said in a press conference in Cebu City on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, that private companies seek profits first.

“Private companies acquire a public utility and their main interest is, of course, profit and public service is just an afterthought,” he said, adding that public utilities could be sold to foreign private businesses if the basic law is amended.

Last month, the President said his administration’s push for Charter change only “extends to economic matters alone, or those strategically aimed at boosting our country’s economy. Nothing more,” adding that he is “going to continue to push hard to attract more foreign investments to significantly help us achieve our ambition of upper middle-class income status by 2025.”

The recent push for Charter change through a People’s Initiative (PI) is spearheaded by the group People’s Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action or Pirma, which collects signatures from registered voters in cities and municipalities.

The Commission on Elections has ordered all election officers to stop accepting signature sheets pending review of the rules on PI.

Last January, the Senate issued a manifesto signed by all 24 senators, expressing the body’s disapproval of the PI. It cited allegations of bribery, corruption, and illegal use of government programs and funds.

This is not the first attempt to amend the Constitution. Past Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III and Rodrigo Duterte attempted to amend the basic law, but all of them failed.

Colmenares said the current move to amend the Constitution is well-funded and well-organized.

“Ito ang pinakamalakas na Cha-cha ever. Marami na kami sa Bayan Muna naranasang laban sa, but this is the most dangerous Cha-cha,” he said.

(This is strongest ever. Many of us in Bayan Muna experienced several battles against Cha-cha, but this is the most dangerous.)

Colmenares was in Cebu for a series of education campaigns on the implications of Charter change to students, youth and church groups from March 3 to March 5. / KJF


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