1. Malacañang claimed yesterday that it has nothing to do with moves in the Senate and House of Represenatives to push for charter change. This is bull. Senate President Sotto himself revealed that he attended a November 2020 meeting with Duterte, together with a number of senators, congressmen and senior military officials where Duterte impressed upon them that he wants a constituent assembly convened to amend the 1987 Philippine constitution.
2. Sotto says Duterte wants two things: remove or amend partylist system, reflecting the views of the Lorenzana and his ilk at the NTF-ELCAC; and amend the 1987 constitution’s economic provisions, which has long been lobbied for by the US government and American big business groups. When told that congress can simply amend the party-list law, Duterte insisted that what he wants is to convene a constituent assembly, revealing an agenda bigger than the party-list system.
Duterte styles the push for charter change as an extension of his red-baiting drive to silence progressive party lists and other democratic forces, and of his regime’s drive against the CPP and NPA. In so doing, he has secured the military and US’s support to help get “chacha” off the ground.
3. He is also pushing for “economic amendments” to make the constitution congruent with full liberalization by removing certain provisions upholding national patrimony consistent with the interests of any self-respecting sovereign nation. “Economic chacha” is an enticement to further secure US imperialist support and dissuade the conservative pro-US political opposition from further participating in any anti-Duterte united front. But this agenda is plain to see and will likely be rejected.
The broad masses must oppose “chacha” even if it is exclusively for “economic amendments.” The neoliberal “economic amendments” being pushed by US companies and big business will further condemn the country to perpetual crisis and backwardness. Allowing foreign capitalists full control over our Philippine land, other resources and business operations will only make the country a perennial beggar. Foreign capital never helped the country stand on its own two feet.
4. Duterte has repeatedly claimed he does not want to stay any minute longer after his term ends. Based on four years of Duterte’s lies, no one believes this claim? He is a master of saying one thing and doing another. Will he be doing a Marcos, who in 1970, promised not to run for a third term, two years before declaring martial law.
In fact, Duterte does not only want term extension–he wants to die while in power or at least while his political dynasty is in power. He claims he is ready to go to prison to face the consequences of his actions. Another lie. In fact, anticipating this, he withdrew Philippine membership from the International Criminal Court. He is now doing everything to avoid having to face trial and imprisonment over his crimes of murder, corruption and treason.
5. Once a constituent assembly is convened, anything goes, especially as it will be under supermajority control of his minions, who are ever ready to please the tyrant. They can decide to extend Duterte’s stay by one year or two, or allow him to run a second term.
6. Duterte’s minimum aim is use chacha against the Left, disunite and undermine the political opposition and cement US support. His maximum is to extend his term either by removing term limits or putting in place transitory provisions. If this maximum objective could not be achieved, Duterte still has other schemes in play including propping-up and securing the 2022 presidential ambition of his power-hungry daughter Sara, or outright declaration of martial law or “revolutionary government” to impose a fascist dictatorship.