MANILA, Philippines – Sectoral groups will hold the Panalangin at Miting de Avance ng Taumbayan (prayer and miting de avance of the people) at the People Power Monument on Friday afternoon, May 10, to urge voters to choose an independent Senate on Election Day.
Friday’s event will bring together coalitions, social movements, religious organizations, human rights organizations, and civil society organizations to persuade voters to choose candidates who will resist charter change (cha-cha) and dictatorship.
In a press conference on Wednesday, May 8, Judy Pasimio from the Green Thumb Coalition warned that the 2019 elections might be “the only chance na mayroon tayong malayang eleksyon (that we have a free election).”
“Kung mapuno natin ang Senado ng mga mamamatay tao at magnanakaw at nagtutulak ng agenda ni Duterte, isang diktador na. Ang ating mga kalayaan ay hindi na natin matatamasa. Mahalaga itong panahon ng eleksyon – ating ilagay doon ang kayang tumindig sa ating mga karapatan at kayang magsabing hindi sa agenda ni Duterte,” Pasimio said.
(If we fill up the Senate with murderers and thieves and people who will push Duterte’s agenda, we have a dictator. Our freedom will no longer be achieved. The election is an important time to elect people who can stand up for our rights and say no to Duterte’s agenda.)
The concern comes at a time when the Supreme Court is mostly composed of President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees. In the House of Representatives, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had vowed to carry out Duterte’s legislative agenda.
“We believe that only [through] an independent Senate can we realize our needs and our wants. We want our sovereignty intact. We don’t want it destroyed by dictatorship. We, as Filipinos, want our country free of silent invasion,” said Marita Wasan from Sangguniang Laiko. (READ: What happens if the Philippines can’t pay off loans from China?)
Groups from different sectors will gather at the Miting de Avance ng Taumbayan to express their concerns over two efforts being pushed by the Duterte administration: the shift to federalism, and the Philippines’ loan agreements with China. (READ: Made in China: Loan terms with waivers, shrouded in secrecy)
“We have to make Charter Change an electoral issue in this last stretch. The Filipinos have to realize that the vote for pro-cha-cha politicians is a vote for uncalculated uncertainty, instability in strengthening of impunity,” said Renzo Relente from UP Alyansa
Alex Lacson, convener of the People’s Choice Movement, emphasized how the proposed draft of the federal constitution contains provisions that are “anti-Filipino, anti-people, anti-democracy, anti-youth, anti-family, anti-labor.”
The proposed draft of the federal constitution removed the 1987 Constitution’s anti-political dynasty provisions, term limits, and the line limiting participation of foreign investors in the governing body of entities based on their proportionate share in the capital. (LIST: Major constitutional changes the House wants under federalism)
Relente said that the proposed draft might pave the way for a dictatorship, given the current provisions.
“The shift to federalism will not address the people’s needs but would lead to dictatorship and consolidation of power, judicial authoritarianism, and new limitations to our human rights. [It would also] strengthen dynasties and majorities, the dangers of having a transitory government among other pitfalls of this charter change,” he added.
Aside from charter change, the groups also urged voters to choose candidates who will scrutinize the Philippines’ loan agreements with China and protect the nation’s sovereignty. This means having an independent Senate that will choose to pursue people’s rights instead of the administration’s agenda.
“‘Pag sinabi mo kasi pong independent na Senado, kailangan po majority ay opposition doon para pag gawa ng imbestigasyon hindi po kayang patayin ng majority. Kung majority ay opposition, hindi mamatay ‘yung imbestigasyon na ‘yan,” Lacson said.
(If you say an independent Senate, the majority has to come from the opposition, so if they make an investigation, the majority won’t be able to kill it. If the opposition holds a majority, the investigation won’t die.)
They also asked voters to reject pro-administration candidates in order to maintain the independence of the Senate. – Rappler.com