“All the people of righteousness will rise to oppose the act of the Devil even at the risk of war,” said evangelist and 2004 presidential candidate Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas.
Various media outfits estimated the crowd at around 7,000-8,000. Rally organizers placed crowd estimates at 10,000. Police, meanwhile, said the protesters numbered about 5,000.
Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, presidential son, and House Speaker Prospero Nograles have been leading moves at the House of Representatives to amend the 1987 Constitution. It is widely suspected that these moves aim to extend President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term beyond 2010, although both the younger Arroyo and Nograles have denied this, saying the real intent of Charter change moves is to ease restrictions on the entry of foreign investors.
Deputy House Speaker Pablo Garcia and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, both belonging to Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi or Partner of the Free Filipino) which is part of the ruling coalition, recently authored a resolution seeking to convene Congress as a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution.
The pro-Charter change congressmen from Kampi seek to change the form of government from presidential to parliamentary, under which Arroyo would be qualified to run and seek the position of prime minister. They aim to finish the process of amending the Constitution by 2009 so that parliamentary elections could be held by 2010.
They claim to have gathered more than 150 signatures for the resolution. They aim to gather 198-200 signatures, equivalent to three-fourths of the combines House and Senate membership, to be able to bypass the Senate and convene Congress into a constituent assembly.
Youtube personality Juana Change delivers a satirical speech during the anti-Charter change rally, December 12. (Photo by R. Olea)
But all 23 senators have signed a resolution opposing all attempts by the Lower House to unilaterally amend the Constitution. Any such move “without the approval by three-fourths of the Senate voting separately is unconstitutional,” states the resolution, which was introduced by Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.
At the House of Representatives, 23 congressmen have signed House Resolution No. 888, authored by Reps. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), opposing all moves to amend the Constitution before the 2010 elections.
Any “proposal to change the presidential and unitary form of government to parliamentary and federal form of government before 2010 elections will surely play into the hands of those plotting to perpetuate Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in power,” the resolution states.
The resolution also states that “removing the protectionist economic provisions of the Constitution being used to justify charter change will likely make the country more vulnerable to global economic recession, open up the nation to further control and plunder by foreign economic powers and exacerbate economic crisis and mass poverty.”
Casiño said Charter change should be opposed because it is not needed and it will not solve the country’s problems. “If we want the country to prosper, if we want to solve the issue of graft and corruption, the issue of human rights violations, the solution is not to push for Cha-cha but to replace Arroyo and have a government that serves the interests of the people,” he said.
He also said the protests could grow bigger and bigger if Arroyo and her allies ignore the message of the Charter change opponents and continue to push for their scheme. (Bulatlat.com)