New attempt at “Cha-Cha” exposes GRP’s rotten political and economic system

Another attempt to change the 1987 GRP constitution (charter change or cha-cha) is currently underway and has been triggering unrest among the people and within the rotten ruling system.

Cha-cha’s have been attempted by every GRP regime after Cory Aquino. The 1987 Constitution was framed precisely to prevent another Marcos dictatorship (the GRP president is limited to  one six-year term). Despite its reactionary character, the 1987 GRP Constitution has a clear commitment to patriotism and social justice, and it declared the Philippines nuclear-free.

These attempts followed the same script and ended in failure because of the preeminence of the selfish political objectives of those holding power to perpetuate themselves.

The move to change the constitution began a few weeks ago in early January 2024, when a nondescript YouTube video was posted poking fun at the 1986 “EDSA people power revolution” which ousted the fascist dictator Ferdinand Marcos, father of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

A so-called people’s initiative started a week later, collecting signatures from the barrios and communities to amend certain provisions in the 1987 constitution which its proponents blame as the cause of the country’s underdevelopment. A people’s initiative is a scheme that purportedly allows Filipinos to directly propose amendments to the Constitution, without requiring congressional action.

However, progressive people’s organizations, political opposition, and the church have argued and stood strongly against cha-cha’s revival. They assert that far from being the solution to the Philippines’ underdevelopment, it is in fact being railroaded to extend the term limit of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

According to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), this revival of cha-cha is no different from attempts of previous regimes to use it for their selfish political ambitions. The cha-cha revival is in fact initiated by Marcos Jr.’s cousin, Speaker of the House of Representatives Martin Romualdez, who reportedly spent Php20M per district (about USD350,000) to buy the signatures of the people. The Philippines has around 253 congressional districts.

Bayan argued that apart from its ultimate goal of removing term limits of elected officials, cha-cha will further open the economy to foreign plunder and exploitation and the return of permanent US military bases in the Philippines. According to Bayan, this is the reason why the US is also behind the Marcos Jr. government in this initiative.

Blaming the 1987 constitution for the roots of the country’s problems is covering-up the reality of unbridled bureaucratic corruption, feudal and semifeudal exploitation and imperialist control of the political and economic system of the country, Bayan emphasized.

The GRP has been consistent in covering up these problems when talking peace with the revolutionary movement and blaming the armed resistance as the cause of the country’s poverty and underdevelopment. It has tried to trip the revolutionary movement to surrender to the GRP constitution. In fact, the cha-cha attempts show the GRP wants to mutilate its own constitution.

During the 38th anniversary of the EDSA uprising, thousands marched in the Philippines and overseas to protest Marcos’ scheme to change the charter. They organized a broad network opposed to changing the 1987 Constitution, which bans political dynasties, sets term limits for public officials and provides other guarantees to ensure that the state has “checks and balances”, and prohibits 100% foreign ownership of land, key infrastructure, strategic industries and facilities in the Philippines.

The broad opposition network against cha-cha also asserted that instead of focusing on wrecking the constitution, the GRP should address the people’s demands for wage increases, lower prices, and better social services.

They also called for resolving the anomalous 2022 elections which installed Marcos Jr. and Duterte.

A joint House and Senate resolution has been filed to form both chambers into a constituent assembly to amend several articles in the GRP constitution allowing foreigners full ownership of public utilities, educational institutions, and advertising, among others.

As the Marcos Jr. regime remains determined to push for cha-cha despite the failures of previous attempts and amidst the Filipino people’s resistance, the people’s militant democratic movement and its political allies must intensify their vigilance in opposing and fighting further moves of the regime to perpetuate itself in power and allow further imperialist intrusion into the country’s economy and politics.

This current push for cha-cha has only exposed the ruling bureaucrat capitalists’ drive to perpetuate themselves in power, further sell the country’s sovereignty and integrity to imperialists, and desecrate the people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.#