Duterte’s charter change means dictatorship, deeper poverty, and disunity among tribes

The Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self Determination firmly opposes Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s Charter Change. We reject his rhetoric of federalism as the solution to social inequities and unrest. Duterte’s chacha is nothing but a total sell-out to our national patrimony and sovereignty as a nation and for us, national minorities – both the Moro and indigenous peoples- the diminution of our collective right to self-determination.

Today, we stand in front of the House of Representatives, to protest the machinations of Duterte’s super majority to fast track this chacha that serves their lust for power and wealth at the expense of the millions of Maria and Juan dela Cruz.

Duterte’s Cha-cha is anti-Filipino people and anti-national minorities as it :

1. Opens up Philippine lands and territory to 100% foreign ownership and unbridled exploitation of natural resources. The 1987 Philippine Constitution supposedly safeguards the country’s land and resources from foreign control, yet big foreign entities collaborate with oligarchs, bureaucrats and politicians are able to circumvent these protections. The national minorities are the biggest victims – our ancestral lands and territories rights are violated; resources are plundered and the environment destroyed. Now, Duterte’s chacha removes all barriers for the foreign ownership and brazen exploitation of land and resources. Whatever will remain as token recognition of our collective rights as national minorities in Duterte’s chacha will be rendered insignificant.

2. Will no longer recognize the indigenous customary laws to determine our land and territories. This allows the state to fully control our territories and sacrifice us in the “altar of national interest”. This will mean more incursions into our lands by big foreign and local business interests.

This will also remove the right of the Moro and Cordillera peoples to autonomy as an expression of self-determination enshrined in the current constitution.

These are blatant disregard of our basic right to self-determination and disdain of our indigenous culture. Worst, this will wreak havoc in the unity among tribes especially in disputed territories. Disputes that have been resolved peacefully will be unearthed by interested parties under the federal system thus will bring discord among tribes. This can trigger tribal wars for the indigenous peoples and rido for the Moro peoples.

Even the creation of federal states will bring about division and disputes not only among national minorities but even among regions.

3. Will strengthen existing political dynasties. The Federal system, where political power is to be decentralized to different regions will only benefit existing political dynasties. Those who are already marginalized – like us the national minorities, will stay powerless and voiceless. We see, that proposals dangled like a Bangsamoro federal state, a Cordillera federal state or indigenous peoples sub-states will only replicate the failure of the ARMM or the Cordillera Administrative Region where “autonomy” was only meant for the political dynasties and warlords while the rest remain in poverty, discriminated and neglected by its own local government.

4. Will make a dictator out of the President. While building the a new federal system, the President and his political allies will extend their terms to nine years more. During this period, the President effectively controls the three branches of government. This is nothing but a dictatorship. Already the President Duterte draws its claws with fascist repression against the Filipino people and the national minorities who are asserting their rights and welfare. Another nine long years only empowers him and his fascist military minions to suppress legitimate struggles. Millions will suffer displacement due to intense military operations. Thousands will be jailed for trumped up charges. Many will lose their lives fighting for their rights.

All of these are happening now. What more for another nine years of repression and dictatorship?

We believe that there is a need for comprehensive socio-economic reform and system change. But Pres. Duterte’s Charter change does not address the roots of poverty and social unrest. Pres. Duterte’s Charter change clearly only favors him, his political allies, and their imperialist benefactors. Like the demagogue that he is, Pres. Duterte again plays up his Charter Change as the solution to the problems of the Filipino people. He enticed his political allies and politicians with an extended term and a federal system where they can consolidate their political and economic power. He has dangled federalism to the national minorities as the expression of their right to self-determination.

But the Filipino people and the national minorities cannot be deceived by Pres. Duterte’s sugar coating. Our experience has shown the duplicity of his kind of talk.

For us national minorities, we need a government that truly recognizes and upholds our right to freely choose our political status and determine and pursue our economic, social and cultural development at our own pace.

We will continue in our struggle for the real system change and until we achieve genuine self-determination. We will oppose Duterte’s Charter change and his despotic and fascist rule.###

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