ANG BAYAN, 21 July 2012, Editorial

Pull all stops to resist the Aquino regime's "cha-cha" scheme

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Reactionary politicians are currently busy trying to sneak charter change ("cha-cha") into the national agenda. No matter how much Aquino denies it, "cha-cha" is definitely one of the priorities of his regime and the entire ruling system. It is a logical consequence of Aquino's betrayal of the nation's sovereignty in allowing growing US armed presence in the country and his ceding of the national patrimony to foreign companies.

Aquino's minions are actively working on building a broad consensus among reactionary politicians in favor of charter change. These efforts are being led by Juan Ponce Enrile, Senate president and one of the leading stalwarts and baton wielders of US imperialism. Enrile's partner in this endeavor is Rep. Feliciano Belmonte, Speaker of the Lower House of Congress.
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Enrile and Belmonte want to accomplish "cha-cha" in the shortest time possible and without any obstacles or political scuffles. US imperialism is extremely keen for "cha-cha" to push through. Nonetheless, it also wants amendments without any major conflicts that would shake the stability of the ruling political system.

The tactics used in quickly securing Corona's impeachment by Congress in November 2011 are the same ones they would like to utilize again in achieving "cha-cha." Alongside a vigorous media campaign to make "cha-cha" palatable to the people, government funds will definitely be used to "convince" the politicians.

There are efforts to "depoliticize" the "cha-cha" and portray it as an exercise with purely "economic" objectives. Aquino is pictured in the media as being opposed to, or uninterested in, "cha-cha" in an effort to make the people believe that politicians are not interested in amendments leading to their term extensions. But this is all public posturing. In fact, Aquino and the entire puppet ruling regime are extremely interested in "cha-cha" and desire it exceedingly.

"Cha-cha" counts among the Aquino regime's top priorities because it is one of the requisites set by US imperialism for the Philippines to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement which is currently being built by the US. The TPP aims to build a "free market zone" where member-countries abolish all tariffs and similar policies to achieve full investment and trade liberalization.

Since Aquino's men came to power, they have been actively negotiating to have the country included in the TPP. But the US outrightly said last year that the country must first amend the reactionary constitution to make it consistent with the objectives of the TPP.

The constitutional changes being pushed by the Aquino regime all revolve around this issue. The regime wants to completely eliminate from the constitution whatever remaining provisions it has that promote national independence and protect the national patrimony. In particular, Enrile wants to remove from the reactionary constitution provisions that bar foreigners from owning land in the country and prohibit foreign capitalists from owning more than 60% of enterprises.

"Cha-cha" will also pave the way for eliminating provisions banning foreign military facilities or bases and prohibiting the entry of nuclear weapons in order to allow American troops to freely enter and leave the Philippines and conduct operations within the country.

Once "cha-cha" pushes through, the puppet government will have completely surrendered Philippine national sovereignty. The US has already been able to push its neoliberal policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization in the past three decades. The removal of the remaining restrictions will surely result in the further ravaging of the economy and plunder of Philippine natural resources, the intensification of workers' exploitation and the graver oppression of the toiling masses.

If the US has been able to strengthen its presence and military domination of the Philippines despite contrary constitutional provisions, there will be no stopping it from transforming the country into its military outpost in the Asia-Pacific once "cha-cha" comes to pass.

The Filipino people must give their all in resisting the "cha-cha" scheme, whether this will be accomplished by convening Congress as a "constituent assembly" or electing a "constitutional convention" simultaneous with next year's polls. All progressive, patriotic, democratic, pro-people, environmentalist, anti-nuclear, pro-peace and revolutionary forces must unite and take a stand against "cha-cha" and its goal of further condemning the Philippines to remain within the backward and crisis-ridden semicolonial and semifeudal system.

They must expose and oppose Enrile and his ilk's pro-imperialist ideas that justify "cha-cha." They must expose the widespread havoc unleashed on the masses' lives by the neoliberal policies of the last three decades: skyrocketing prices of oil, food, water, electricity, education and health services, widespread unemployment and homelessness, low quality jobs and low wages, the export of labor to other countries, the death of local agricultural production, the seizure of land by foreigners, the denudation of the forests and the loss and destruction of the Philippines' natural resources.

They must push for patriotic economic policies to revive the local forces of production through a program for national industrialization and genuine land reform. The toiling masses of workers and peasants, and even small businessmen and producers interested in developing the local economy through patriotic policies must be mobilized against "cha-cha."

The spirit of patriotism must be kindled. The patriotic sectors must be mobilized against the planned "cha-cha" to advance and fight for Philippine national independence, bar plans to use the Philippines as a huge US military base, fight for an independent and peace-loving foreign policy and advance the struggle for the right to self-determination.

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