A country’s constitution, if done properly, is the reflection of the aspirations, objectives, and beliefs of its citizens. For a democratic society, a constitution is an important foundation for society as it manifests the people’s will and consent. It is therefore not surprising that when social power is concentrated in the hands of a small elite, attempts are made to shape the law of the land according to particular interests. In the guise of acting “in the name of the people”, many constitutions have been hijacked by tyrants, oppressors, and opportunists across history.
The Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) believes that we are seeing another such attempt in the Philippines. Using the people’s legitimate frustration at the failure of formal, elite-controlled democracy to deliver economic prosperity and political empowerment, another section of the ruling classes is attempting to channel mass support for its own particular interests. This is demonstrated clearly by claims in pro-Charter change propaganda that the people were “na Edsa-pwera”. Conveniently excluded from the narrative is the fact that the ruling classes, the political dynasties and their business partners, have ruled continuously over Filipinos for decades. Even before the failed promises of Edsa, the people had been victimized by decades of plunder and tyranny under the elder Marcos. Hindi lang tayo na “Edsa-pwera”, na-Marcos din tayo.
What the Philippines needs is not another constitution. We need a government that is truly interested in serving the Filipino people. The present, and future administrations can head in this direction without resorting to charter change. First, there is an urgent need to seriously develop an agro-industrial policy. Rather than give everything to the private sector, the Philippine government must aggressively promote a developmental agenda. There should be serious support for our native industries, the development of manufacturing and our industrial base, all connected to the agricultural sector.
Second, age-old problems must be addressed. Agrarian reform, long neglected by a landlord-dominated Congress, needs to be properly completed. The scourge of contractualization, long denying millions of Filipinos security of tenure, must be scrapped. The government should develop policies that will consciously build our domestic market. Problems with the cost of electricity and transportation must be addressed through public investment. All of these things can be done without opening our constitution.
Sentro believes that without these systematic reforms, the Philippines will continue to lag behind, whatever constitution we adopt. We see this recent attempt at charter change for what it truly is. This is just another attempt by one section of the elite to secure their interests —- all at the expense of the Filipino people. Sentro calls on all working people to reject the push to open our constitution. Without a government that is from and for the people, we will only see more of the same: low wages, poor jobs, and few opportunities.