OFWs Up in Arms Over Charter Change

by Janess Ann J. Ellao

MANILA (June 8)  – Overseas Filipino workers are just as outraged as many in the homeland over the recent passage in the House of Representatives of the bill that could pave the way to amend the Constitution.

On June 4, members of the United Filipinos in Hongkong (Unifil-Migrante-HK), Bayan-HK, Gabriela Women’s Party-HK and Bangon Pilipinas Movement trooped to the Philippine consulate general in Hongkong to protest the “biggest betrayal of the House of Representatives for the interest of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,” referring to the approval of House Resolution 1109 that would constitute Congress as a constituent assembly.

“For those congressmen who said ‘aye,’ you just marked your political death among OFWs,” Dolores Balladares, chairperson of Unifil-Migrante-HK said. “We’ll aggressively promote among our families and friends in the Philippines not to vote for you because you allowed yourselves to be puppets of the criminal government of GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo). The people’s voice must prevail and not GMA’s,”

Norman Carnay, country information officer of Bayan-HK, said the members of the Lower House who supported House Resolution 1109 should now be called “Malacañang Thugs.” He added that the ultimate agenda of the proposed Charter change is to protect Arroyo from prosecution for the numerous cases that could be filed against her once her term as president expires.

Amending the charter to effect a shift to a parliamentary system would enable Arroyo to run as representative of Lubao, Pampanga, thereby extending her immunity from suit. “The stage has been set and the puppets in Congress have played their part,” Carnay said.

“This again showed how deceptive and lacking in integrity this government is. It has repeatedly said before that they are setting aside cha-cha and now this,” said Edgar Robles, Bangon Pilipinas HK representative.

Meanwhile, Filipino migrant workers in South Korea also expressed their dismay over the approval of House Resolution 1109, saying that it is a “betrayal of the Filipino people.” Pol Par, chairman of the Katipunan ng mga Samahan ng Migranteng Manggagawa sa Korea (KASAMMAKO) said in a statement that the 1987 constitution was “treated like a piece of soiled table napkin that can be easily disposed of after a full meal, yet they want some more pork barrel on their tables.”

In New Zealand, Migrante Aotearoa joined overseas Filipino workers around the world in their indignation against the approval of House Resolution 1109. “Nine years of Arroyo pushed more Filipinos to desperately seek jobs abroad as she failed to address the people’s long-running demands for economic reforms,” Dennis Maga, national coordinator Migrante New Zealand said in a statement. “Why would OFWs support the cha-cha agenda that will effectively perpetuate Arroyo’s fraudulent stay in power?”

Maga said Arroyo’s allies in Congress deserve to be voted out of office.

The group also underscored Arroyo’s notorious record as a human-rights violator. “Cha-cha is her train to get away from being prosecuted for more than nine years of the most scandalous fraud, corruption, human-rights violations and failure to grant economic relief for the Filipino people,” Maga said.

On June 12, OFWs in New Zealand scheduled a “Black Friday Protest” against Arroyo’s move to amend the Constitution. “OFWs want regime change and meaningful socio-economic reforms that will benefit jobless Filipinos at home,” Maga said. (Bulatlat.com)


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