â€œWe were forced to accept the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion [TRAIN] program, and now they want us to accept charter change, too.”
By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA – Delegates of the Eastern Visayas caravan for rights and justice held a press conference today March 4 to denounce the impending charter change under the Duterte administration.
“Pinasakay na sa TRAIN, pina-chacha pa tayo,” said one delegate, highlighting how successive anti-people policies have been imposed under the Duterte administration. (“We were forced to accept the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion [TRAIN] program, and now they want us to accept charter change, too.”)
“Wala pa nga ang chacha, nakikita na natin ang epekto na mas lumalala ang kahirapan,” Marissa Cabaljao, Secretary General of People Surge, said. (Charter change has not yet been approved but we are already seeing how lives of people are getting worse because of poverty.)
In highlighting the immediate effects of charter change on the farmers, Baby Senovio of the Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA) mentioned how the proposed amendments would open up the economy and natural resources to hundred percent ownership to foreign investors.
Under the proposed amendments for charter change, exploitation, development and utilization of natural resources shall be opened for 100 percent foreign equity ownership provided that there is a law passed in Congress and agrarian reform will be removed as a policy of the state.
In Eastern Visayas, most farmers do not own the land they till despite occupying and cultivating it for decades. Aside from that, they have to face pests and successive typhoons that destroy their crops and homes. With little to no assistance received from the government, an anti-people charter change will definitely leave them at a greater loss.
In the same press conference, the female leaders also pledged support for Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who is in danger of being impeached. According to Senovio, the impeachment complaint filed against Sereno is intended for no other reason but to harass dissenters and the opposition.
“Sa pamamagitan lang ng tunay na reporma sa lupa magkakaroon ng kahandaan sa kalamidad. Kung magkakaroon ng chacha at hahayaan na lang ang dayuhan na magmay-ari ng mga ito, paano na kaming mga mamamayan ng silangang kabisayaan na 80% ay nakabase ang hanapbuhay sa agrikultura?” Cabaljao asked.
(It is only through genuine agrarian reform that the farmers can be truly prepared for calamities. If charter change is pursued and foreigners are allowed to own lands, what will happen to the farmers of Eastern Visayas, 80% of whom rely mainly on agriculture as their livelihood?”)
Video and editing by RUTH LUMIBAO