Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Activists hold rally in Mindanao, criticize proposed Charter change

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 3, 2009) – Political activists held a rally on Wednesday in Davao City in the southern Philippines, denouncing the proposed amendments to the Constitution by President Gloria Arroyo’s allies in Congress.

The protesters, many from the militant group called Bayan and other people’s organizations, also criticized House Speaker Prospero Nograles, a key ally of Arroyo, for the passage Tuesday of the House Resolution 1109, which seeks to turn Congress into a Constitutional Assembly, paving the way for changes to the Constitution. They held the rally outside Nograles' congressional office.

“Gloria Arroyo and her political allies in the lower house headed by Nograles are making their biggest crime against the Filipino people with their attempts to fulfill charter change.”

“There is nothing more obvious than the actions made by Malacañang, through its allied congressmen, to cart off the barriers to cha-cha’s realization. The passage of HR 1109 speaks for their intentions to railroad charter change before the 2010 national elections and maintain Gloria Arroyo’s top post as prime minister,” said John Birondo, a local Bayan spokesman.

Birondo urged the public to stay vigilant and oppose changes in the Constitution which could extend Arroyo’s term beyond 2010.

Arroyo is to step down next year when her term ends, but her allies in Congress are campaigning to amend the Constitution.

Militant groups said amending the Constitution would eventually prolong Arroyo's stay in power. But Nograles said the change in the Constitution is needed to introduce reforms in the economy, among others.

Under the presidential form of government, Arroyo is allowed only one six-year term. In the charter change proposal suggested by her political allies who dominate Congress, she can be elected as prime minister should Congress dissolve the Senate and change the system of government to parliamentary and eventually prolong her into power beyond 2010.

Arroyo’s political party Kampi last week merged with two of the country’s major parties - Lakas and CMD – and the President declared that the merger is a strong assurance that national and local elections will push through in 2010.

“Malacañang pronouncement that it will push through with the 2010 elections is no difference to the lies it said with the ‘Hello Garci Scandal’, ‘NBN-ZTE Deal Scandal’, and the rests of the controversies involving Gloria Arroyo, her administration, and the First family,” Birondo said.

He said more rallies are expected in the coming days in Mindanao to protest the proposed changes in the Constitution.

“For our lawmakers to break the laws and pursue something unconstitutional, and act against the people’s will, is clear arrogance. They don’t deserve to be respected and be regarded as the people’s representatives. What the people urgently need amidst the worsening global financial crisis are resolutions from the Arroyo government that will ensure jobs for the workers, lands for the farmers, quality and accessible education for the youths, food and shelter for the urban poor, and free health services for everyone,” he added.

Arroyo deposed President Joseph Estrada in a people power revolution in 2001, but corruption scandals in her government and allegations of poll fraud has made her extremely unpopular among Filipinos. (Mindanao Examiner)

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