BY ANNA KRISTINA VIRTUSIO AND RONALYN OLEA
As the House of Representatives resumed its sessions today, various groups trooped to the House of Representatives to oppose Charter change.
The hearing of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments was disrupted by eight students who wore caps with anti-Charter change slogans. The students are members of the Kabataang Pinoy Party which considers donning graduation caps as a “silent and symbolic protest against how lawmakers are prioritizing [their] political interests over the more pressing need to tackle the unemployment issue.”
The security personnel inside the session room immediately confiscated the students’ protest materials including copies of their press release. The students were forced to leave the session room.
Ken Ramos, president of Anakbayan, said, “How can we accept Charter Change? They should first provide food for the people, jobs for the youth and land for the farmers.”
Meanwhile, members of Concerned Citizens, Black and White Movement, Former Senior Government Officials, Solidarity Philippines, Pwersa ng Masa and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held a motorcade from St. Peter’s Parish along Commonwealth avenue in Quezon City to the House of Representatives. Before the motorcade, a mass against Charter change was celebrated by Fr. Joe Dizon of the Solidarity Philippines.
When the protesters attempted to proceed to the hearing, they were initially refused entry at the south gate of the Batasan Pambansa complex.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., Former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman and Former Civil Service Commission Chairperson Karina David negotiated with members of the security. After 25 minutes, the protesters were instructed to use the north gate entrance.
Soliman said, “Hindi kami dapat harangin. Public hearing iyon. Karapatan naming malaman ang pag-uusapan nila tungkol sa Cha-cha.” (They should not prevent us from entering the House of Representatives. That’s a public hearing. We have to right to know what they will discuss about Charter change.)
At around 12 noon, members of Bayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, Health Alliance for Democracy and other organizations marched from Sandiganbayan to the House of Representatives. They were pushed away by the security personnel.
Members of transport group Piston also trooped to the House of Representatives to register their opposition to Charter change.
George San Mateo, secretary-general of Piston, said, “If there is no term extension, then why don’t they pull out the House Resolution ? We have been against this ever since, especially on term extension.”
They joined the farmers and fisherfolk who started their 54-day camp out yesterday at the south gate of the House of Representatives.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, its Southern Tagalog affiliate Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list rejected Charter change and reiterated their demand for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill or House Bill 3059.
Twelve resolutions and bills on Charter change are pending before the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
Earlier, House Speaker Prospero Nograles and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte resigned from their posts as presidents of Lakas and Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino), respectively, allegedly to signal that the 2010 elections will proceed.
Nograles authored House Resolution 737, which was approved by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments last February while Villafuerte drafted a resolution which seeks to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly.
In a statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and KMP secretary-general Danilo Ramos, said, “Are their resignations real or for reel? Are these resignations meant for their respective graceful exit because of the people’s protest against Chacha? Or they just want to make mind-boggling stories and confuse the people in accordance with the dirty game plan of Malacanang?”
House Minority Deputy Leader and Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo deemed that the resignation of Nograles and Villafuerte from their posts as party leaders can be a move to consolidate the leadership of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo over the two parties.
Reyes said, “We can never be complacent until all the Arroyo-initiated Charter change resolutions are withdrawn. The fact that the proponents of Cha-cha want to bring the matter to the Supreme Court tells us Arroyo’s allies are still planning to maneuver before and even after the 2010 elections.” (Bulatlat.com)