By MACARIO PACANA
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Welcoming three new convenors to their cause, the People’s Movement Against Charter Change (People’s March) has vowed sustained mass actions and protests against constitutional amendments.
The broad coalition of sectoral organizations, peoples’ organizations, academe, youth and school organizations and church people is part of the nationwide movement against the railroaded House Resolution 1109 that would pave the way for the convening of a constituent assembly in Congress.
The simultaneous nationwide protests against HR 1109 here last June 10, the coalition said was just an opening salvo and the series of protest actions would further escalate as the president’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) draws near.
Lawyer Beverly Selim-Musni, People’s March co-convenor, told reportes in a press conference here Monday that they would launch a multi-pronged approach to junk the “Senate-less” constituent assembly of the House of Representatives.
Should the Constitution be changed, Musni said, “we would take quantum leap backward” as charter change would effectively reverse the important gains in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship.
Among the proposed changes in the constitution includes a new basis for declaring martial rule, which would now include “insurrection” and anything that may fall under the phrase “imminent threat thereof.”
Musni said this would make it easy for the president or prime minister to declare martial law on the basis of “destabilization” or even “people power.”
“Gloria will be granted vast powers for the wholesale violation of people’s rights, and looking at her track record, the human-rights violation in the country would only worsen,” she said.
Aside from the sustained mass actions calling for Arroyo’s ouster and picket protests during committee hearings, she said they would also launch a public information campaign on the true agenda of charter change in communities and barangays.
“Most Filipinos still could not understand why we should junk con-ass, that’s why we will do a series of forums in the grassroots level to unmask the Arroyo-instigated tampering of our constitution,” Musni said.
She added that their group would join Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, who will lead a mass mobilization against charter change on Saturday, June 20.
In Monday’s convenors’ meeting, city Councilors Roger Abaday and Teodulfo Lao and Enrico Salcedo, chairman of barangay (village) Gusa, signified their intention of joining People’s March.
Abaday told local media he has decided to join the group openly because he sees the cause as “matarong” (righteous).
“Con-ass is unconstitutional. As convenor of People’s March, I will actively join the movement until we meet our objectives and yes I will join the rallies in the streets,” Abaday told the press.
“I am against cha-cha as well as the brains behind it,” he added, drawing applause from the other convenors.
As for Lao, he said he has long been supportive of the people’s movement for good governance and that joining rallies and openly supporting causes are not new to him. He too said he would join protests in the streets. “The Constitution should not be touched,” he said.
For his part, Salcedo said he has always been against any move to change the Constitution and offered the first round of forums be held in his barangay.
Representing Bishop Felixberto Calang of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), Fr. Christopher Ablon said charter change is uncalled for.
“We should look into the reasons for poverty, not changing the Constutition,” Ablon said.
Peoples’ March has also reinvigorated their lobbying in the Senate. Musni said they are optimistic that Senate would support the call of junking of HR 1109 citing the Senate’s Resolution 811 passed late last year.
In that resolution, the Senate expressed the sense “that any attempt by the House of Representatives to unilaterally propose amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution without the approval by three-fourths of the Senate voting separately is unconstitutional.” (Bulatlat.com)