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Railroading charter change

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By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo Chair BAYAN-Philippines

The summer heat grows more and more intolerable with only the occasional rains brought by La Nina providing momentary relief. On the other hand, there is no reprieve from the political heat being generated by the prolonged crisis over the legitimacy of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency.

It grows even more intense with every attempt by Malacanang to hide the truth and to suppress with brute force the popular movement seeking to remove Mrs. Arroyo from power.

What Proclamation 1017 — that is, undeclared martial law ¬ has failed to do in terms of squelching the fires of unrest, rebellion and resistance among the people, Mrs. Arroyo and her lapdogs led by Speaker Jose de Venecia hope to achieve using the ploy of revising the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Charter change or Cha-cha proponents claim that Cha-cha will achieve sweeping reform of the prevailing, crisis-prone political and socio-economic system.

It will purportedly do this by shifting the form of government from presidential to parliamentary. At the same time, it will complete the “structural reform” of the economy by taking out of the constitution all remaining protectionist measures as well as preferential treatment accorded to Philippine nationals. Not coincidentally, this is in line with the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund-World Bank doctrine of neoliberal “globalization”.

In truth, Cha-cha is meant to divert public attention from the “Hello Garci” electoral fraud scandal, the jueteng mafia involving members of the First Family, the fertilizer scam and many more such stinking cases of wholesale graft and corruption.

The so-called “people’s initiative”, that reeks of a Malacañang-directed dirty tricks operation, is meant to create an illusion of massive support for the Arroyo “chacha”. It is intended to counter stiff Senate opposition to a proposal from the Lower House, packed with Mrs. Arroyo’s loyalists, for the convening of a constituent assembly composed of incumbent legislators to revise the Constitution.

Cha-cha is being railroaded by the Arroyo administration and its congressional allies primarily because if they are able to push through with it, Mrs. Arroyo’s presidency is preserved legally and legitimized politically up to, and some say, even beyond, 2010.

What is billed as an unstoppable express train by Mrs. Arroyo is fast becoming unmasked as a rather old and dilapidated Philippine National Railways-type train that is weighed down by heavy political baggage and running dangerously low on the fuel of credibility .

There are clumsy attempts to create a bandwagon effect by mobilizing the pro-GMA local government officials to manufacture millions of bogus voters’ signatures; by creating media hype through paid hacks and public relations operators; and by utilizing a discredited Comelec to supposedly verify the signatures gathered despite an earlier Supreme Court ruling that had stopped the Comelec from doing so.

In fact, the Cha-cha ploy is being exposed quiet handily by media, members of the opposition, the mass movement and even ordinary citizens as a political hoax, thus adding further to the long list of GMA sins against the people and, thereby, fueling more disgust, more rebelliousness, more resistance and struggle.

It will ironically provide one more nail in the Arroyo regime’s coffin.

On the other hand, whatever the success of the Cha-cha ploy in prolonging the political life of the GMA regime will inevitably result in further exposing the rot of the entire ruling system and arouse the exploited and oppressed broad masses of the people to finally overthrow it.