‘Cha-cha lies in the power of the people, not politicians’ — coalition

Dominic Gutoman
3 min readMar 14, 2024

by DOMINIC GUTOMAN
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — On March 14, the No to Charter Change (Cha-cha) Network gathered at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City to denounce the government’s push for an “economic cha-cha” through Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) №7.

RBH 7 seeks to ease the foreign ownership restriction in advertising (Section 11, Article XVI), education (Section 4, Article XIV), and public utility (Section 11, Article XII). It was approved on second reading by the House of Representatives (HOR) on March 13.

“The amendments are unnecessary, not urgent, and could worsen the situation of the Filipino people. The process is also alarming since adding the provision ‘unless provided by law’ gives Congress the power to revise or even reverse the constitutional provisions through ordinary legislation,” said former Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casiño, one of the convenors of the network.

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He also described RBH 7 as a “Pandora’s box” because other changes may also be pushed seamlessly like the extension of term limits of elected officials.

While past administrations have pushed for charter change, the network said that current efforts are the “most organized and well-funded.”

“Historically, the proposals for Cha-cha were always approved in the Lower House since the time of De Venecia [former House Speaker, 1992–1998], but it always failed at the level of the Senate…There is news that the Senate has enough votes to defeat it,” Casiño said.

However, Casiño and the rest of the convenors of the network highlighted that the decisive force in the development of Cha-cha is the people.

“We are confident that if we have done it in the past, we, together with the people, will also be able to stand against Cha-cha,” he said.

Jerome Adonis, secretary-general of Kilusang Mayo Uno and a convenor of the network, echoed the same sentiments, underscoring the lessons from the past. “The fight is not within the premises of Congress and Senate alone. This is a fight against the Marcos camp, whose cohorts are also in the Houses, against the people. If we can concretely explain the impacts of economic Cha-cha and its possibilities to extend to the political provisions, the power lies in the people, not in these politicians,” he said in Filipino.

Two progressive lawmakers who voted against the passage of RBH 7 — Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel and Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas — are also part of the network.

“We do not believe that there will be decent work and quality education once we open it more to foreign corporations. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure jobs and education for the people, it should not be in the hands of the foreign powers,” Manuel said.

No to Cha-cha Network will hold a protest action at the HOR on March 20 to denounce the railroading of RBH 7. (RTS, DAA)

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Dominic Gutoman

Covers human rights, environment, grassroots initiatives, and accountability mechanisms at bulatlat.com.