Press Release
March 18, 2018

People don't trust Congress in cha-cha moves as deleting 'love', 'truth', 'freedom' angers artists

BAGUIO CITY -- A number of people invited in Friday's Senate regional consultative hearing on Charter change here don't trust Congress in cha-cha moves, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson observed.

Meanwhile, artists who grouped themselves into Task Force Chacha are angered by the deletion of "love," "truth," and "freedom" in the proposed draft of the ruling party PDP-Laban.

"We are greatly disturbed by the many deletions of words with such deep meaning and relevance to us, as Filipinos, still emerging from a dictatorship and with vestiges of our colonial past, specifically in the PDP-Laban version: independence, truth, freedom, love -- in the Preamble. Entire sections with mention of nationalism and patriotism, DELETED," according to the position paper of the group.

Aside from Malu Maniquis of Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino (LKP) who read the position paper here, others who signed it were:

Jaime Fabregas, Soc Jose (LKP, film section head), Kalila Aguilos, Lui Quiambao-Manansala, Neil Doloricon (Concerned Artists of the Philippines secretary general), Joel Lamangan, Mae Paner, Joel Saracho, John Arcilla, Dexter Doria, Angel Aquino, Michael de Mesa, Pen Medina, Bart Guingona, Cesar Buendia, Angeli Bayani, Jeffrey Jeturian, Fernando Josef, Neil Daza, Leo Rialp, Roberto Yniquez, Paolo Villaluna, Cesar Hernando, Sari Dalena, Keith Sicat, Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, Monique Wilson, Ricky Lee, and Madlen Nicolas.

To the question, "Is there a need to amend or revise the Constitution," the artists said: "Our answer is a resounding NO. Why? Because the very spirit of the 1987 Constitution was the result of asserting our basic rights against the dictatorship."

They also said any cha-cha should be through a constitutional convention "because this is the most democratic and most participative way of crafting our new Constitution, our future, the future of our children, of our cherished motherland."

They paid tribute to the late National Artist Lino Brocka, "freedom fighter," film director, a member of the commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution, and reminded the Senate of his contribution to the fundamental law of the land: "It was Lino Brocka who had the word EXPRESSION included in our Bill of Rights which expanded the meaning of this provision. A word so encompassing it benefits all of you, all of us, here today and the rest of the Filipino people, lest we forget."

'Element of distrust'

Aside from Lacson, the other senators who attended the regional consultation hearing here were Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, and Senators Paulo "Bam" Aquino, Nancy Binay, and Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, who as chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes presided over the hearing.

During the hearing, Lacson noted that some resource persons were against cha-cha because they did not trust Congress to do it.

"Kanina, sabi ko, apat yung against, and nag-usap kami ni Senator Bam kanina, isa lang yung pinaghuhugutan ng inyong hindi pagsang-ayon sa Charter change, yung element ng distrust," he said.

Lacson said this might be because pro-cha-cha congressmen were insisting on no elections and no term limits.

"Siguro kung naunang nai-present yung consultative committee ng Pangulo, kaysa doon sa nauna yung pagsasalita ng mga congressman at very vocal pa nga sila na sinasabing wala na munang eleksyon and therefore ma-extend yung kanilang mga terms at wala pang term limits, doon nagkaroon ng element of distrust," he added.

Pimentel, who is also president of ruling PDP-Laban, tried to allay the public's fears of cha-cha, noting that the proposals are not yet official.

"Ang advice ko lang, read all of the proposals. But don't be too alarmed about the proposals kasi these are not yet the official proposals. Nahuli kasi yung consultative commission. I think they promised to have a version by April, [then] bigay kay Presidente. If the Office of the President now releases an official version, yan na po ang ating iko-quote at i-criticize o i-support," the Senate President said.

Pangilinan, who is also president of the opposition Partido Liberal, said the sentiment among the resource persons in Baguio is for citizens to be directly involved in changing the Constitution.

"Well, although, mistrust is one, and concern yan. I think, sa akin ang underlying, sabihin na nating sentiment is really, if you're going to change the Constitution, we want to be directly involved instead of allowing Congress, the Senate, and the House to do it, kung gagawin din lang ang Charter change, dapat involved ang mamamayan. They want to participate, they want to know, they want to have a say," he said.

Pangilinan reiterated that to resolve this, direct participation in the process is needed.

"I think that is one overriding consideration, tiwala at the same time direct participation. Ayaw nilang minamadali and because historically ang naging kasaysayan ng cha-cha sa Pilipinas ay nauudlot dahil ang perception ng mamamayan ay inuuna yung makasariling interes," he said.

"Interesado sila, alam nila na kulang ang kaalaman nila, alam nila na may mga pinag-uusapan na mayroong kinalaman sa buhay nila pero gusto nila makibahagi. Gusto nilang involved," he added.

Among the resource persons who opposed moves to change the constitution were Fr. Manuel Flores Jr. of the Diocese of Baguio; Maria Meryl Isidro of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, Abigail Anongos of the Cordillera People's Alliance; and Atty. Jose Molintas.

Meanwhile, resource persons supportive of changes to the constitution were Gov. Pedro Mayam-o of the Province of Ifugao; Gov. Jocel Baac of the Province of Kalinga; Atty. Basilio Wandag, NCIP Ethnographic Commissioner for CAR and Region 1; and Atty. Alan Antonio Mazo, President of Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Baguio-Benguet Chapter.

In an interview after the hearing, Pangilinan said the committee is likely to hold three or more hearings in Bicol-Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Northern Luzon, and another one in the Visayas.

The government, through the Department of Interior and Local Government, has gone full blast in promoting federalism as the solution to many of the country's problems, including that of the so-called Imperial Manila, or the concentration of power and resources in Metro Manila.

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