ILOILO City – Various organizations in Panay held a protest last January 18 slamming the Congress of railroading proposals to revise the 1987 Constitution through a constituent assembly.

In Iloilo City, hundreds joined the protest denouncing the Congress’ move as an ‘effort to concentrate power’ to president Duterte.

Congress discussed constitutional amendments through a consolidated bill from a number of proposals including the Resolution of Both Houses No. 8 (RBH 8). Most bills have suggested a shift from a unitary presidential form of government to federalism.

BAYAN Panay criticized RBH 8 for containing provisions that abolishes Congress and grants Duterte legislative powers that would abolish current constitutional commissions, and overhauls the judiciary from the Court of Appeals and Sandiganbayan down to the Regional Trial Courts.

The group also slammed provisions in RBH 8 that gives congress power to pass laws allowing foreign corporations to exploit our natural resources, lease and acquire public lands, operate public utilities, educational institutions and the media.

“The treacherous Duterte-controlled Congress is using the shift to federalism as an excuse to circumvent the constitution in his favor,” said Elmer Forro, BAYAN Panay secretary general.

“The dangerous proposals are set to galvanize the tyrannical one-man rule of Duterte” said Forro. “It is important that we express our opposition to challenge this tyrannical government.”

In Aklan, militants wore headdresses and bamboo drums as they participated in the yearly Ati-atihan’s merry-making event.

“The celebration of Ati-Atihan should not isolate the people from the tyrannical condition of our country especially now, that the US-Duterte regime is so aggressive to suppress, and delete all the democratic guarantees of human rights under the current 1987 constitution via charter change through constitutional assembly,” said Kim-Sin Tugna, BAYAN Aklan’s officer-in-charge.

Tugna added that the government’s move for cha-cha is Duterte’s bribing and fascist tool to ensure his reign as a dictator,” Tugna added.

PANGUMA Aklan, the provincial formation of farmers in the province also lambasted Duterte’s cha-cha as a desperate move to spare him from the crimes of bombing Marawi, extra-judicial killings on drug war and political killings of progressive leaders.

Mitchel T. Tagumpay, provincial chairperson of PANGUMA, added that cha-cha will also legalize anti-people, militarist and economically regressive impositions of the present administration such as martial law and Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) as being packaged in his Build, Build, Build, a program subservient to foreign domination.”

Meanwhile, Bayan Capiz also lambasted Duterte’s plan to stay in power and install a government that will further exploit and oppress the people.

The Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) Panay, in a statement, has denounced charter change as an act against the interest of the Filipino people. According to the group, there is no imperative basis to change the ‘principles of democracy, national sovereignty and integrity’ enshrined in the Constitution. They have pledged bigger protests in the coming weeks to counter constitutional revisions. (panaytoday.net)

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