By Leslie Ann Aquino
A Catholic prelate is opposed to changing the present Constitution at this time.
In his blog, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo admitted that while the 1987 Constitution is not perfect and can still be improved, but not at this time and not with this present congress and president.
The prelate believes federalism is being used as a “smokescreen” to bring about Cha-cha which is the formula for total control of the country.
“President Duterte is presenting federalism as the magic wand to bring about prosperity to the whole country and the way to bring about federalism is the change of the present constitution, cha cha, in short,” Pabillo said.
“It is a control that is backed up by the new constitution they are proposing! We do not yet know this new constitution but knowing the people who are behind this – Duterte and his minions – and knowing who will craft this – the present congress convened as constitutional assembly – we can already guess where this is heading. It will spell disaster to the Filipinos,” he added.
The bishop said he is saying no to Cha-Cha because the atmosphere in the country is not conducive to critical participation.
There is also the haste, he said to make the cha cha.
“They want the plebiscite to be done this year. So there is no time for transparency, proper consultation and discussion. But why the haste? There is a strong suspicion that the haste is to avoid the election of 2O19 so that those in the office can remain,” Pabillo said.
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on the Laity is also convinced that Duterte is out for power.
Pabillo said they do not believe his “promise” to resign if the cha cha for federalism is already passed since he also promised to do this in the past but never did.
The prelate also lamented the lack of independence of the Lower House which he said has become a rubber stamp of the palace.
“The congressmen and women there no longer represent the people but their own families and political interests. They do not have the good of the people at heart. They cannot be trusted. Nor are they qualified too for changing the charter!” Pabillo said.
Instead of Cha-cha and federalism, he said people in government should address the real problems in the country like the runaway inflation, the rise in prices of the basic goods, the atmosphere of lawlessness with the continued killings of the poor, of church people and of politicians, the loss of our territorial sovereignty, the weakening of our democratic institutions, the anger at the controlled and uncalled for ranting of Duterte, among others.
The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas is also strongly opposed to the Cha-Cha.
“We do not believe in the timeliness of the process and its lack of transparency because we are witnesses to a House of Representatives that acts as puppets of totalitarian executive,” the group said in a statement signed by its president Julieta Wasan.
“We do not believe in the proposal to adopt a federal form of government that would apparently guarantee a fairer distribution of resources among the regions, more participation in the political process and a better life for all, yet giving vast powers to President Duterte between 2019 and 2022, and impose more taxes on the people to support new structures and officials,” it further read.