Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Groups Opposed To Charter Change Hold Forum In Cotabato City

About a thousand people attended a forum on anti-charter change at the Notre Dame University in Cotabato City in Mindanao on Wednesday, July 8, 2009. (Photo by Michael Madamba)
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 8, 2009) – Civil and progressive groups opposed to proposals to change the Constitution held a forum on Wednesday in Cotabato City in the southern Philippines.

About a thousand people trooped to the Notre Dame University where the forum was held to listen to resource persons discussed proposals by allies of President Gloria Arroyo to amend the Constitution.

The proposal could prolong the stay of Arroyo who is to step down next year when her term ends.

Representative Satur Ocampo, of Bayan Muna Party List, spoke about his group opposition to the passage of the House Resolution 1109 which would convene a Senate-less Constituent Assembly that would tackle the changes in the charter.

House Speaker Prospero Nograles, who is one of those campaigning to amend the Constitution, said the changes are needed to introduce economic and other important reforms.

Ocampo said:”It is a total sell-out of national patrimony and sovereignty if we shall let this to happen. It is the future of the next generation which is at stake.”

He stressed some critical points that people should consider to resist charter change and among them are proposed amendments to “obliterate” nationalist provision especially on economic restrictions which does not allow 100% foreign ownership on lands, mining, shipping and education, among others.

One of the forum’s organizers, Pastor Orlando Zambrano, of the United Methodist Church, also expressed his dismay of what he called “Arroyo’s minions in lower congress which is to prolong the term of the president.”

“Her allies primarily working out to change the present presidential to parliamentary form of government through charter change, which is the only way for her to escape lawsuits and prosecution of corruption and plunder charges. Another term in favor of Arroyo as a president of this country would mean another burden to Filipino people.” Zambrano said.

Zambrano, who founded the group called “People’s MARCH,” issued a unity statement that reads:

We, the people’s movement against charter change or people’s march, express our strong opposition to House Resolution 1109, which would convene the House of Representatives into a constituent assembly (Con-Ass), and any move to amend the constitution perpetrated by the politicians who currently hold power.

The Filipino people cannot entrust the future of this country in the hands of those who profess to be selfless leaders while instigating or deliberately acting as complicit in massive graft and corruption, human rights violations and the sellout of our sovereignty.

A switch to a parliamentary form of government is not the key to solving any of the problems the country is facing. The problem does not primarily lie in the form of government or in the constitution. It is in the kind of leaders running this country.

We condemn the incessant attempts of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her minions to press on with charter change despite the public’s disagreement. Their greed and lust for power are truly appalling.

We believe that charter change is nothing but a ruse to keep President Arroyo in power and to advance the interests of the elites, foreign capitalists and the unscrupulous politicians.

We also believe that President Arroyo, fearing for her and her family’s prosecution for their involvement in corruption charges, human rights violations and other crimes against the Filipino people, is exhausting all means to remain in power.
We vow to stir the minds of the people to the true agenda of charter change and its would-be consequence to the lives of Filipinos. We vow to mount pressure against charter change. We vow to resist the money, power and influence of those advancing cha-cha.

We will not allow a despot and her cohorts to continue to plunder our coffers, trample on the sanctity of human rights and give up our vital resources to foreigners.

We call on everyone to take a stand and join us in resisting cha-cha. Now is not the time for apathy. We cannot afford to be fence sitters when the good of the country and our fate as a nation are at stake. (With a report from Michael Dumanba)

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