Earlier today, March 6, the Philippine House of Representatives approved the “Resolution of Both Houses No. 6”. The resolution will enable changes to the 1987 Philippine Constitution through a constitutional convention (con-con).
If the implementing bill and companion legislation in the Senate pushes through, delegates of the Con-Con will be elected October 30, 2023, start work on November 20, and end on June 30, 2024.
False solutions to real problems
The Con-Con is justified by the need to change economic provisions in the Constitution in order to make the Philippines “globally competitive and attuned with the changing times.”
But as history has shown, foreign investment will not facilitate pro-people economic development. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has increased forty-fold since the early 1980s, with corporations like Intel, Hanjin, and Malampaya having invested billions of dollars into the country. Despite some short-term gains, the Philippines still has no national electronic, ship-building, or natural gas industries of its own.
Moreover, the land and seas of the country have been exploited by foreign mining, fishing, and forestry industries, leading to displacement of peasant farmers and Indigenous communities via land-grabbing, as well as environmental destruction that leaves the Philippines more prone to climate disasters.
As Filipinos overseas, we have experienced the direct impacts of this liberalization of the economy. Because over-dependence on foreign investments has stunted the development of sustainable national industries, the Philippines has looked toward the service sector as a means of propping up the economy — including service work overseas. The labor export of Filipino workers spiked in the 2000s as the government relied more and more on remittances to address trade deficits, much of it a direct result of foreign investment-centered policies in the country. The influx of foreign capital into the Philippines has led to the exodus of our own people.
To make matters worse, the Constitutional Convention itself will cost 9.5 billion pesos (over $170 million) in the immediate, and delegates will be afforded P10,000 (more than $550) a day along with travel and lodging accommodations. Meanwhile, the highest daily minimum wage rate in the country remains a mere 570 pesos ($10) in the National Capital Region, with daily minimum wages in other regions being as low as 341 pesos ($6). These resources could be used to better address pressing issues of inflation and poverty.
The Marcos regime has proposed no real solution to the worsening economic crisis. Charter change will only worsen, not improve, the lives of the Filipino people. Only a policy of genuine land reform and national industrialization will improve the lives of the Filipino people in the long-run. Only once the government upholds such a policy would foreign investments be beneficial to the country. The Filipino people are capable of creating and building our own industries, but the Marcos administration is selling out the country through 100 percent foreign ownership.
Insult to People Power
Proponents of Resolution No. 6 claim that the con-con will only be limited to amending economic provisions in the Constitution. However, this resolution is not legally binding. Once the Constitutional Convention meets, it would be empowered to propose changes to any part of the document. This includes term extensions of elected officials, the abolition of the partylist system (which has been under tremendous state-sponsored red-tagging), and even the abolition of the Senate.
While imperfect, the 1987 Constitution contains democratic safeguards fought for by the mass movement of Filipinos that successfully ousted Marcos Sr. after decades of intense struggle. Cha-cha could pave the way for the rollback of any semblance of democracy embodied in the current Constitution, and instead further institutionalize corruption and fascist rule by the Marcos dynasty and his cronies.
We reiterate that while the Constitutional Convention in charge of proposing amendments will comprise of both elected and appointed delegates, we know that elections are dominated by political dynasties and massive voter fraud. This Convention would be no different, especially with Marcos allies lining the halls of Congress and political dynasties exerting influence over legislative districts.
We cannot allow the erasure of the people’s gains, nor can we allow even the tiniest bit of space for the full reinstatement of a Marcos dictatorship — or any other member of the ruling class, for that matter.
Prepared for the long fight
Hundreds of BAYAN USA members and allies marched to the Philippine Embassy and Washington DC this past weekend to denounce Marcos’ cha-cha. We march in step with those who protested at the Philippine House of Representatives’ front door. As further legislation is pushed through the Senate, we will continue to build a mass movement to fight against these attempts to erode Philippine sovereignty and democratic rights.
No to Marcos Charter Change & Dictatorship!
Stop Selling Out the Philippines!
Economic Relief Not Charter Change!