MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 8:48 a.m.) The impending move to amend the Constitution to allow the shift to a federal form of government is a “political swindle” to “make way for a fascist dictatorship” with all powers of government “over-concentrated” in the hands of President Rodrigo Duterte, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines said.
“Duterte and his cohorts are engaged in political swindling when they stay that federalism is the cure to all the big problems of the Philippines,” Jose Ma. Sison said in a statement following reports Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez have agreed to convene Congress as a constituent assembly this year to rewrite the Charter.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan also weighed in on the matter, calling the constituent assembly “a move intended to centralize power with the President and extend the term of office of current elected officials.”
The two congressional leaders, however, favor different timelines, with Pimentel eyeing a plebiscite in 2019 and the Speaker wanting to fast-track the process and present the draft Charter for ratification as soon as the barangay elections this May. Alvarez’s plan also envisions the scrapping of next year’s elections.
But Sison said: “What is in fact the form of government being set up by Duterte and his cohorts is a pseudo-federal government ruled by a presidential fascist dictator. This autocrat and his minions in Congress are trying to keep themselves in power for ten more years without having to run and spend for their reelection.”
“Whatever is the form of government, the rottenness of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruling system under US imperialism and the local exploiting classes will persist,” he added.
Unless a “revolutionary social transformation” happens, Sison predicted that “the country will be getting more of the same ruling families of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists at all levels of government.”
“Corruption will continue to run rampant on top of excessive expenditures for establishing and elaborating on the regional level of government,” he said.
He also disparaged Duterte’s professed “independent foreign policy,” saying the government would continue to seek “the blessings of the US and other imperialist powers” by ensuring that “the new pseudo-federal constitution will get rid of the nationality requirements or restrictions on foreign investments in violation of economic sovereignty and national patrimony by simply inserting the phrase, ‘unless otherwise provided by law’.”
For Bayan, not only would Charter change allow “a new dictatorship where the President is vested with Executive and Legislative powers during a transition period, and where political dynasties are further entrenched under a pseudo-federal system,” it “also paves the way for the total sell-out of the Philippine economy and patrimony to foreign interests.”
“Constitutional restrictions on foreign investments and ownership are set to be removed to pave the way for the full foreign take-over of the economy,” while the envisioned federal government “will lead to the concentration of economic and political power with the ruling elite, as well as lead to further bureaucratic corruption and the impoverishment of the people,” it said.
“The people must resolutely oppose these maneuvers of the Duterte ruling clique,” Bayan said. “All patriotic Filipinos must now stand against charter change and a new, looming dictatorship.”