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System Change, Not Charter Change!

Filipinos Overseas Demand Livelihood, Services, Land, Rights, and National Sovereignty!

Amid enraging labor trafficking cases of Filipino fishermen and nurses in the U.S., as well as insufficient aid given to overseas Filipinos in distress, the Marcos government has chosen to prioritize — not laws to stop illegal recruitment, not policies to create jobs in the Philippines, not directing funds for assistance to migrants overseas — but changing the constitution to benefit those in power. BAYAN USA rejects the Marcos regime’s latest attempt at “charter change” (or “Cha-Cha”), and calls on all Filipinos to unite and fight for livelihood, lands, our rights, and independence. 

The current Cha-Cha initiative is being posed as a “people’s initiative.” In reality, it is the brainchild of House Speaker Martin Romualdez (Marcos’ cousin) and the entire Marcos clique to make it easier for the ruling elite to enshrine into the constitution laws that benefit them. Under this initiative for Cha-Cha, signatures are being collected in order to call for a “constituent assembly” to change the constitution. In such an assembly, the Senate and House would vote jointly on any amendments. This would in effect eliminate the Senate from the equation, whose 24 votes would be almost meaningless compared to the House’s 316 votes. All 24 Philippine Senators have already unanimously denounced this initiative. Infuriatingly, public money is going towards pushing this fake initiative — via bribes and television ads to encourage people to sign — when Filipinos across the country and overseas face hardship and are told the government has no money to assist them.

Like previous regimes, Marcos’ attempt at Cha-Cha blames the EDSA People power that ousted his family from Malacanang and the resulting 1987 Constitution for the current economic crisis and rising poverty in the Philippines. In reality, Marcos himself and his fellow elite are part of the root problems of the Philippines, as they rampantly exploit and pocket the country’s wealth, and allow the US imperialism to control the politics, economy and military of the country. 

Now, Marcos has come out in full-support for opening up the economy to foreign powers, making the false promise that attracting more foreign investment will uplift the Philippine economy. His statement comes as no surprise given his jetsetter lifestyle throughout 2023, traveling the world to sell out the Philippines to the highest bidder, such as during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last November. 

As history has proven, foreign investment without national industrialization will only benefit big business and bureaucrat capitalists. The collapse of domestic manufacturing, agriculture, and small businesses was a result of former regimes’ implementing neoliberal policies enforced by imperialist global agencies like the IMF and World Bank. The current jeepney phaseout threatening the livelihood of thousands of drivers and operators is proof of this: foreign companies supplying the expensive “modern jeeps” are the only winners. The Philippines’ signing onto a nuclear energy agreement with U.S. based companies is just another example of investments that will ultimately cost the Filipino people for the benefit of foreign capital.  

And while the Marcos regime has made no mention of changes to politicians’ term limits or expanding the presence of the U.S. military in the country during this round of Cha-Cha, if this “people’s initiative” were to pass, nothing would be off limits. This is especially true if the constituent assembly were to push through, wherein the joint vote of the House and Senate could be directed and dominated by Marcos’ own family, House Speaker Romualdez. Besides, even without Cha-Cha, the Philippine government has been circumventing the constitutional ban on U.S. bases through unequal military agreements like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), under which nice U.S. military facilities have already been approved on Philippine soil. 

Cha-Cha has failed in the past because the Filipino masses saw the true motive of its promoters: to line the ruling class’ own pockets and to remove limits to their power. The people do not demand Marcos’ charter change. The people demand the change of the rotten ruling system that benefits the few. The people’s demands are for jobs at home, an end to forced migration, aid and services for Filipinos in need, land reform, national industrialization, genuine sovereignty, respect for basic human rights and genuine democracy. 

Livelihood, land, rights, and independence; not Cha-Cha for foreigners and the few!
Use public funds for social services, including Assistance to Nationals, not for Cha-Cha!
Genuine land reform, national industrialization, and just peace; not selling the Philippines to foreign interests!
Fight for genuine freedom and democracy!