As House Committee Sets to Vote on Cha-Cha, Groups Stage Protest

August 26 – 2:30 p.m.

Members of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance) and allied groups staged a protest in front of the House of Representatives, 10:30 a.m. today opposing moves to change the Constitution.

The Committee on Constitutional Amendments of the House of Representatives will vote on the mode of changing the charter this afternoon.

Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr. questioned the move. “Why vote on cha-cha when they know so many people are against it? Why rush cha-cha now when they know the Senate is against it? These maneuvers by Arroyo’s allies in the Lower House are suspicious indeed. The release of pork barrel funds in time for the cha-cha vote also raises more suspicion on the voting,” Reyes said.

In a statement, Gabriela Women’s Party List Representative Liza Maza called on his colleagues not to ‘allow Congress to become the wielder of the wedge that will divide the people further.’

Maza asserted that a public consultation is necessary.

She said that the turmoil in Mindanao came in the heels of the lack of consultation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). “This government is developing an addiction to arbitrariness and autocracy,” said Maza.

Reyes deemed, “The MOA now appears to be a mere entry point for cha-cha as far as the regime is concerned,” Reyes said.

Meanwhile, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) warned that the Congress would again be the center of the people’s protest if the Committee on Constitutional Amendments pushes through with their voting.

The group also reiterated that there can never be surgical amendment to the Constitution via the Constituent Assembly. “Assurances that the Constituent Assembly will not be authorized to extend the term of Pres. Arroyo are not only misleading but a barefaced lie,” said Neri Javier Colmenares, NUPL secretary general said.

Colmenares added, “… it [Constitutional Assembly] can amend or overhaul the Charter and is, therefore, logically empowered to extend the term of Pres. Arroyo or allow her to run again in 2010.” (

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