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Catholic group warns: Charter change proposals a threat to democracy

01:47 PM January 30, 2018

Following the reservations of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, an organization of Catholic laity said they were disturbed over attempts to amend the 1987 Constitution.

The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas warned that current Charter change proposals are “a threat to our democratic system and our aspirations as a free and progressive nation.”

In a statement, the LAIKO stressed that for various reasons, it is disturbed over the haste and aggressiveness of Charter change proponents in amending the 1987 Constitution.

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“The manner by which Charter Change is presented to the Filipino people by the administration, especially the House of Representatives, is with undue haste and without much consultation and dialogue,” part of the statement read.

It was issued as the CBCP issued its own pastoral guidelines on attempts to amend the Charter and pave the way for a federal form of government.

LAIKO president Julieta Wasan pointed out that the present 1987 Constitution is said to be the best in the world, with its provisions for social justice, human rights and local autonomy.

She added that past attempts at Charter change were rejected because the objective was to extend the terms of those in power, particularly those occupying the highest position in the government.

Wasan pointed out that the present Charter change attempt does not answer the question of whether there is a real need to change the 1987 Constitution, and if a Constituent Assembly is better than a Constitutional Convention.

The LAIKO expressed fears that “this exercise is being viewed by many as something that we cannot freely argue about anymore, because doing so will put the lives and well-being of those resisting this initiative, at risk.”

“As lay Catholics, we are disturbed by the aggressive stance of this administration to change a constitution that has not been thoroughly understood and studied by 73 percent of the population, according to a Pulse Asia survey,” Wasan stressed.

She added that instead of implementing the Charter, “majority of our legislators appear to be in a hurry to supercede these, with an agenda that will disregard the hard-earned gains of the Filipino, such as social justice, human rights and democracy.”

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The LAIKO urged Filipinos to “relentlesly search for the truth” amid attempts to effect Charter change.

“It is our duty to let the people know what is happening, help them form their conscience, seek the truth and do what is right,” the lay organization said.

They also appealed to government leaders, educators and civil society to take the lead in providing the much-need voters’ education to the people on the issue of Charter change.

This is “so that the results of any plebiscite for this would truly reflect the sentiments of an informed and responsible citizenry,”the LAIKO added.#

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Catholic laity, Charter change, constituent assembly, constitutional convention, Human rights, Julieta Wasan, Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas
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