[Statement] Reject Charter Change, Uphold Democracy, Defend Human Rights! -iDEFEND

Reject Charter Change, Uphold Democracy, Defend Human Rights!

Crafted by a Congress that propped up the failed war on drugs, extended martial law in Mindanao, legislated TRAIN, reintroduced death penalty, lowered the age of criminal responsibility of children, pushed for the term extension of President Duterte and applauded his misogynist jokes, the new draft Constitution spells further political and economic crises for the Philippines.

On February 25th, the country commemorates the 32nd anniversary of the people power that ousted a dictator and ushered in the 1987 Constitution, under a threat of nationwide martial law, attacks on press freedom, the economic burden of surging prices of goods and the plummeting standards of living. The new federalized government being pushed by Congress’ Charter change does nothing to solve these crises. Federalism is farthest from the minds of ordinary Filipinos who grapple with everyday hardship from broken public transport systems, rising food prices, war in Mindanao, worsening unemployment and fears of being killed in the government’s war on drugs.

A Constitution expresses a people’s collective will to undertake the highest level of achievement for the nation; it usually follows a great historical event that defines the changing times in the country. The current charter change effort is being forced upon us by a body of landed elites from family dynasties who aim to institutionalize the rule of local dynasties and plunder the economy. Previous attempts to change the constitution have had the same Marcosian agenda of extending the terms of government officials and establishing a dictatorship.

We absolutely reject a Charter which erodes our people’s sovereign rights and our patrimony; we reject a Charter without a Bill of Rights and Social Justice; we reject a Charter that strengthens elite rule and foreign ownership of our land. We say no to Charter Change via dictatorship; no to federalized elite rule!

Defend the people’s sovereign and democratic rights! Oppose Duterte’s Authoritarian project!

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