ILPS in Canada opposes the Philippine Government’s attempt to change the 1987 Philippine constitution by eliminating congressional term limits, allowing an increase of foreign military bases in Philippine territory, and removing limits on foreign ownership of companies, land, and public utilities. The current Charter Change (Cha-Cha) proposal seeks to roll-back specific elements which were won through the People Power EDSA uprisings of 1986, which overthrew the dictator Marcos Sr.

Today, the Marcos Jr. regime advocates these changes to the constitution, under claims that it will benefit the country economically by opening up the country to increased foreign investment. The reality is that the Philippines has its doors wide open to foreign companies, and it is already the country most open to foreign investment in the region. These economic policies, which prevent the development of national industries in the Philippines, have led to the current socio-economic crisis being faced by the country. Cha-Cha will do nothing other than exacerbate the current economic, political, and military control of foreign imperialists over the Filipino people!

In all this, Canada benefits. The historic and tragic operations of Canadian mining companies in the Philippines will now be given even more freedom in the country to continue their theft. In fact, the 1995 Mining Act, which circumvented the 40% limit of foreign ownership in the current Philippine constitution, has led to nothing but a destructive mining industry in the Philippines. This industry destroys the environment, displaces indigenous communities, does little to nothing for the local economy and local workers, and only lines the pockets of foreign imperialists.

Furthermore, the Cha-Cha will lead to an increased military presence in the Philippines. Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategy already aims to provide increased military aid and weapons sales to the Philippines and increase Canada’s military presence in the West Philippine Sea. The increased military presence leads to increased human rights violations. The Philippine state has bombed and displaced rural and Indigenous communities, particularly communities with the presence of mining companies and other foreign imperialists. Furthermore, women and gender minorities are made unsafe by the presence of military bases and are subject to abuse by soldiers stationed at these bases. Increased cooperation between the Philippine military and NATO states, including the US and Canada, does not stand to benefit the Filipino people. It instead uses them as pawns in a conflict that could lead to mass destruction, if tensions continue to rise.

As a result, there has been a mass movement in the Philippines and across the Filipino diaspora to oppose Cha-Cha, including mobilizations in Filipino communities across Canada. The Filipino people deserve national industrialization and good jobs at home, instead of being subject to low wages working for foreign corporations, forced migration abroad, and the occupation of foreign militaries. No to Cha Cha!

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