Cha-Cha: Not at this time, not for the wrong reasons, not through deception

“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4: 1-2 NIV)

Every now and then, through various administrations, moves are being made to change the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Initiators, declaring themselves from the people, claim that charter change will redound to economic development. While the fundamental law of the land is not perfect, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines stands against the current attempt for Charter Change – not at this time, not for the wrong reasons, and not through deception.

The primary amendments by those pushing for charter change seem to overturn the meager measures we have to protect our economy. Done at a time of worsening poverty, rising prices, and challenges in the agricultural sector, we fear that this may be the most dangerous charter change ever. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his allies in both legislative chambers, equate economic development with the further breaking down of barriers to foreign investments, further economic liberalization and exploitation of our national patrimony. We already have decades of experience to prove that trade liberalization and loose measures for foreign-dominated enterprises have only worsened the impoverishment of the Filipinos. We have already seen this with the destructive foreign-owned mining companies in rural areas and with the rice liberalization that plague our local farmers. Thus, we gravely fear that this charter change is only being driven for the interests big foreign and local business and for the political interests of the ruling elite, keeping the Filipino majority poor.

We are also deeply alarmed with how this charter change is deceiving the people. First, as it fronts itself as an end-all, be-all solution for our economy in turmoil. Second, it takes advantage of the peoples’ vulnerability, with reports of local government officials asking residents to sign the People’s Initiative in exchange for money or aid. Such attempts to amend the Constitution through disinformation and manipulation is a travesty to the spirit of the People’s Initiative process enshrined in the very own Constitution they want to change.

We believe that changing the Constitution is a right of any democratic and sovereign nation, and necessary to reflect the welfare of the people. We firmly stand that the fundamental law of the land must always reflect the true aspirations of the people. However, we reiterate that the current push for Charter Change is not an appropriate solution to render just and sustainable change for the people, does not ensure genuine participation, and is rather concealed with disinformation.

As churches, we will transform our prayers into acts that will frustrate any attempt, Charter Change included, that will jeopardize the freedom, sovereignty, and welfare of the Filipino people. We categorically call on the public to refrain from signing the current petition for Charter Change, and to be vigilant against the alleged deception and corruption being used for the campaign.

We also urge the government to stamp out corruption, boost our local agricultural production through genuine agrarian reform, deliver basic social services, and protect our national sovereignty instead.

01 February 2024

Bishop Melzar D. Labuntog

The Most Rev. Brent Harry W. Alawas

Ms. Jennifer Ferariza-Meneses

Pastor Jon Dave A. Angeles
Vice Chairperson

Rev. Leonardo R. Morada

Ms. Minnie Anne M. Calub
General Secretary