Housewife Emely Ferreria said that as early as Friday night, the barangay captain was already gathering signatures without explaining what they were for.
“Kinaumagahan ng Sabado, sa eksaktong pulong na lamang nila, inihayag na tungkol na pala ito sa cha-cha. Dismayado kami sa paraan nila ng panlilinlang” (It was only during the assembly on Saturday morning that they told us the signatures were for Charter change. We were dismayed by their deception).
Celia Minggo said there were rumors that the barangay officials would receive P200 per signature.
“Kaya pala kahit mainit ang sikat ng araw, panay ang pagbahay-bahay nina barangay captain” (No wonder the barangay captain continued to go door-to-door to gather signatures even if it was a hot day).
Barangay kagawad (councilor) Mario Gutierez confirmed his constituents’ stories, saying that he was also kept in the dark about the real agenda of the barangay assembly until the last minute.
“Bago ang pulong, napag-alaman ko na ipinatawag ni Mayor Atienza ang lahat ng pinunong barangay kung saan, isa sa ibinabang kautusan ay tungkol sa Cha-cha. Binibigyang diin ni Barangay Captain na makatutulong si Atienza sa usapin ng relokasyon pero dapat din daw tulungan ang punong lungsod. Halos kalahati na ng 3,000 populasyon ng barangay ay nakuhanan na ng lagda” (I only learned before the assembly that Mayor Atienza had called all the barangay officials and ordered them to push Cha-cha. The barangay captain stressed that Atienza would help with the relocation but that we also had to help him. They were able to get the signatures of nearly half of the 3,000 residents).
If these stories are any indicator, it is clear that the administration is bent on approving the Cha-cha, even if as Malacañang continues to disown the current signature drive in barangays.
Former President Fidel Ramos had attempted charter change through the group People’s Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA), which aimed to gather 5 million signatures to change the Constitution and extend Ramos’s term. Deposed president Joseph Estrada also made a pitch to modify the Constitution under the Constitutional Correction for Development (Concord).
Like the present initiative, both these initiatives were widely rejected because it is clear that the drive to change the charter does not advance their legitimate economic and political interests, but rather upholds the economic interests of the country’s elite while further cementing their hold to power. With reports from Joseph Yu / IBON Features / Posted by (Bulatlat.com)