Expose and oppose the revival of the cha-cha scheme

ANG BAYAN, 7 June 2013
June 17, 2013

Right after the elections, the Aquino clique immediately floated the idea of charter change (cha-cha or amending the reactionary 1987 constitution). The ruling clique clearly wants to take advantage of its majority control over the senate and the lower house of congress in order to push through with cha-cha.

As before, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. served as point man. And as usual, Aquino feigned lack of interest in cha-cha, after noticing the public’s somber reaction to Belmonte’s proposal. But neither did Aquino openly oppose the idea.

Aquino’s minions will surely broach cha-cha anew in the not so distant future because it is what their master has ordered and it is in keeping with the interests of their closest allies. The US and the various factions of the ruling class want new laws and policies that would make the Philippines even more enticing to foreign investors. This means making it even easier for foreigners to extract the Philippines’ natural resources and exploit its cheap labor. The Aquino regime’s entire economic program revolves around the same precepts—relying on and being servile to foreign debt and investments.

The Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo regimes tried various means and schemes to railroad cha-cha. But they all failed in the face of the people’s fierce opposition. The unrelenting crisis besetting the US economy and the US’ need to expand its sources of raw materials and labor are driving it to push the Aquino regime to accomplish what the previous three regimes failed to do.

Towards this end, major monopoly capitalist organizations, among them the American and European Chambers of Commerce have, in recent months, been pushing for the removal of restrictions on foreign investments stipulated in the reactionary 1987 constitution. Among these restrictions are bans on foreign ownership of land and limits on foreign control over enterprises to a mere 40%. No less than US ambassador Harry Thomas has articulated the US government position. Without batting an eyelash, he has called for amendments to the Philippine constitution as a condition for the country to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

The call for cha-cha is being made despite the existence of scores of laws, policies and executive orders that already effectively grant foreign investors free rein to lord it over the entire Philippine financial system, plunder and siphon off local resources, exploit cheap labor and pocket superprofits to the detriment of domestic capital formation, the development of local industry, land distribution and the overall welfare of the Filipino people.

Among these laws are the Ominubus Investment Code of 1987, the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, the Banking Liberalization Law of 1994, the Build-Operate-Transfer Law of 1994, the Mining Act of 1995, the Oil Deregulation Law of 1997 and the Investment House Liberalization Law of 1997.

For more than six decades, the Philippines has depended on foreign investments and debt as key components of the economic program of the neocolonial reactionary state. But they have not spurred the creation of a dynamic and self-reliant economy capable of manufacturing the people’s basic needs. Instead, they have stunted and destroyed local production and manufacturing.

US imperialism also wants to remove constitutional prohibitions on the presence and basing of foreign military forces and nuclear weapons in the country so it could unimpededly use the Philippines to expand its military hegemony in the Asia-Pacific.

The Filipino people must be vigilant regarding the various ways and forms that the Aquino regime will utilize in railroading the cha-cha, now or in the future. They must unite to resist this looming scheme because the proposed amendments will further ruin the Filipino people economically, further obstruct national industrialization and genuine land reform, worsen the people’s oppression and exploitation and further trample on Philippine sovereignty.

The revolutionary movement has a comprehensive program for the transformation of the local economy from its present backward, pre-industrial and foreign investment and foreign debt-dependent state towards one that is modern, developed and of service to the people. This is contained in the draft agreement on socio-economic reforms submitted by the National Democratic Front in its peace negotiations with the Government of the Philippines. The talks, however, have been arbitrarily and unilaterally suspended by the US-Aquino regime. There is currently no indication that the regime’s antinational, anti-democratic and pro-imperialist character will change. Even as the revolutionary movement remains open to the peace talks, it stands ready to continue advancing the peoples’ war to attain socio-economic reforms that will truly benefit the people.