Cha-cha will only burden Filipino taxpayers | Inquirer Opinion

Cha-cha will only burden Filipino taxpayers

/ 05:02 AM March 23, 2023

Lawmakers have explained that the rush for Charter change (Cha-cha) is meant to improve the economy, and is not being done for political reasons.

But we were not born yesterday. Congress cannot purely dismiss politics in this case. Its move to hasten Cha-cha is already a political act and never a neutral step. Undoubtedly, such a move won’t advance the interest of democracy or promote the economic upliftment of our people. Poverty continues to grip us. The deregulated and increasing prices of commodities have left many poor families hungry, resulting in unhealthy children and their regressive school performance. The living wage is hardly that, as workers’ demand for higher minimum pay remains unheard. The economy is not generating decent work.


According to Ibon Foundation, the number of employed persons dropped by a huge 1.7 million in January 2023, at 47.4 million—which means about half of the country’s population is without work. Meanwhile, the poor are overly burdened with taxes that are not used to improve education, health, housing, and other services, but to pay the national debt. Our outstanding national debt of P13.4 trillion means every Filipino now owes P117,985. Likewise, despite our being an agricultural society, the land reform program is far from being fully implemented.

Since the Ramos administration, nationalists, civil libertarians, church leaders and constituents, pro-poor and pro-Filipino economists, the youth, and various sectors have opposed any attempt to change the Constitution. Right now, the government has yet to review its economic policies, social justice services, and international relations. It still has to prove its capacity to address corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency. In fact, it has yet to exert enough efforts to avert the economic crisis by doing the basics: implement genuine agrarian reform, climate justice, pro-workers policies, including offering a living wage, and review its budgetary outlay and priorities.


The expensive process of Cha-cha will be shouldered by already suffering Filipinos. Whether through constitutional assembly (con-ass) or constitutional convention (con-con), the exercise will be an added burden to most of us who are still dreaming of adequate and substantial food on the table. It is reported that a con-ass may cost us P46 million, while a con-con may cost at least P15 billion. This is not the best time to change the Constitution as our nation faces other more pressing problems—poverty, inflation, climate justice, joblessness. The government must prioritize urgent and necessary issues, and Cha-cha isn’t one of them. The Cha-cha rush will lead us further to democratic and economic vulnerabilities through provisions that may be amended to allow term extension and foreign big business domination. To the House of Representatives: We want bread, do not give us stone! (Matthew 7:9)

Norma P. Dollaga,

Kapatirang Simbahan

Para sa Bayan,

[email protected]

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TAGS: charter change, Congress, Poverty
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