Lupon ng mga Manananggol para sa Bayan-Bikol (LUMABAN-Bicol) strongly condemns the US-Duterte regime’s plot to prioritize and ensure the fruition of Charter Change (Cha-Cha) before 2022. This has, however, been in the making since 2016 – first, under the banner of federalism, anti-corruption and effectuating societal change; and now, it is being railroaded under the guise of an economic recovery plan due to the Covid-19 crisis. Whatever card Duterte plays does not change the reality that Cha-Cha is but a contract that binds the masses to the whims of imperialists, bureaucrat capitalists and fascists. For the people, Cha-Cha carries the worst of neoliberal and dictatorial agenda. It breaches all rights and safeguards the people fought for through the 1987 Constitution.
Cha-Cha freely hands over Philippine sovereignty to the imperialists. It removes the limitations on foreigners’ ownership of public and private land, public utilities, exploration and exploitation of mineral resources and other raw materials, education, media, advertising, and even the practice of one’s profession. It will thwart the people’s struggle in defending their country from foreign aggression and state terrorism, exponentially increase landlessness among farmers and completely convert public services into businesses, thereby pushing the Filipino people in a state of mendicancy.
Cha-Cha fortifies Duterte’s fascist rule. After passing and, now, implementing the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), the fascist regime remains hellbent at evading the people’s justice and silencing all critics. Duterte’s Cha-Cha ensures the presence of his supermajority even beyond 2022, with term extensions and more elitist requisites for aspiring public servants. Cha-Cha undermines people’s rights. It enslaves the people to the interests of the state. It is contradictory to the fundamental character of a democratic and republican state built by the people, for the people.
How can anyone defend and stand by a Constitution that would effectively destroy the lives and livelihood of the broad masses? The 1987 Constitution is not perfect, but at the very least institutionalized bourgeois-democratic reforms the people fervently fought for during the Martial Law years. Cha-Cha not only revives but magnifies the economic and political strife suffered by the people under Marcos’ autocratic rule. LUMABAN-Bikol challenges lawyers to represent the masses in and out of the court. Stand in the forefront of this battle, alongside the working class, the peasants, the youth and other sectors of society. Any attempt to revolutionize the law should come from the Filipino people and empower them.