A NUMBER of religious and civic organizations on Wednesday formed a coalition against attempts to amend the 1987 Constitution.

The Koalisyon Laban sa Cha-cha (Coalition against Charter change) said revising the Constitution will not solve the country’s problems, as claimed by its proponents.

Among its founding members were Sen. Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros, Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Bishop Jonel Milan of the K4Philippines Intercessors Movement, Caritas Manila Executive Secretary Fr. Antonio Labiao, Ging Quintos-Deles of the Buhay ang EDSA Campaign Network, Minnie Anne Mata-Calub of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Josua Mata of Nagkaisa Labor Coalition, and members of Akbayan youth

Religious and various group's launch ed Wednesday, February 14 at Knight's of Columbus, a coalition against a renewed push for Charter Change(Cha-Cha) which they said will not solve the country's contrary to its proponents.PHOTO BY: RENE H. DILAN
Religious and various group’s launch ed Wednesday, February 14 at Knight’s of Columbus, a coalition against a renewed push for Charter Change(Cha-Cha) which they said will not solve the country’s contrary to its proponents.PHOTO BY: RENE H. DILAN

“Our Constitution is robust but not fully implemented and completed with the necessary implementing laws,” the coalition said in a statement.

“The leaders we entrusted with power do not fully implement the Constitution and provide necessary implementing laws because of a selfish agenda,” it added.

The coalition refuted claims of pro-Cha-cha lawmakers that the Constitution and its economic provisions are to be blamed for chronic poverty.

It said there is no reason to change the Constitution if President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself is “in denial of the corruption and human rights abuses of his father’s dictatorial regime.”

Instead of revising the Charter, the coalition said the government should eradicate corruption, protect the environment, break political dynasties and ensure electoral integrity.

“We view attempts to alter the Constitution, especially with questionable motives and limited public participation, as threatening our nation’s well-being,” said Bagaforo, chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace.

Bagaforo is also the head of Caritas Philippines.

The Kidapawan prelate said the 1987 Constitution “is not a political plaything” but was crafted “after a dark period to serve the Filipino people, upholding human dignity, human rights, and the common good.

“We echo the CBCP’s stance: Any revision must adhere to these moral principles,” Bagaforo said.

Hontiveros hailed the “true unity” of religious and civic groups against Cha-cha.

“This is true unity: The unity of the people who will fight for the good of the many, not just for the interests of the few,” she said.

The senator urged people to join the coalition and other groups against Cha-cha.

“We are tired of crying because of broken hearts and broken promises. So let’s wipe our tears and wholeheartedly bear the cross of the fight against Cha-cha so that our town can become a truly friendly town,” Hontiveros said.

The NCCP, an ecumenical fellowship of non-Roman Catholic denominations in the country, has expressed its opposition to Cha-cha.

“It will open up the economy to further foreign exploitation and foreign military bases. The former will further mire the people in poverty while the latter will compromise Philippine sovereignty,” NCCP’s vice chairman for women Jennifer Ferariza-Meneses said.

Akbayan Youth Chairman Justine Balane said student councils were rising against Cha-cha, which he said would “short-change” the youth.

“In the face of our nation’s pressing problems, present Charter Change initiatives are divisive, wasteful, and unnecessary. We urge our politicians to put solving our people’s hunger, poverty, and poor education first,” said Deles.

“A just and equitable society for all Filipinos cannot be achieved through self-serving Charter changes, but through a genuine commitment to the people’s welfare. We urge the government to fulfill its duty and prioritize the needs of its citizens,” Labiao added.

Mata said that what Filipinos need are living wages, jobs and rights.

“If your heart isn’t here, you’re probably only after power and wealth. We urge our legislators to prioritize policies that would address the chronic poverty amidst the widening gap of income inequality in the country,” Mata said.