Chacha once again

The first street action I ever participated in was an anti-chacha rally.

This was way back in 1998 or 1999, the time of deposed Pres. Joseph Estrada. I was part of Ateneo’s Sanggunian then, and I think, if memory serves me right, this was after we had created the Union of Catholic Student Councils. We were there protesting the Estrada-led chacha not on the merits of any proposed ammendment to the Constitution, but on it being a thinly-veiled attempt to remove term limits.

“Dancing” the chacha seems to be a preoccupation of every administration after 1986 except Cory’s. Pres. Ramos tried to do it, and, as mentioned above, so did Estrada. Gloria trying the same seems to be par for the course.

The end result of each chacha has always been the same: failure. Because they were all presented to the public as having a motive other than improving on the (IMHO) wonderful 1987 Constitution, chacha has always fallen flat on its face.

Yesterday, after marathon sessions, the House of Representatives approved a Resolution that would turn Congress into a Constituent Assembly. Today, news is rife on protest actions against this latest attempt to change the ’87, inlcuding one next Friday that would see the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches unite for a massive rally versus the House resolution.

If this was pre-Gloriagate, I would say actions led by the Church have a very, very good chance of succeding. This is a country where religious forces have played a role as counter to excesses of the political forces. This is still a country with 80% of its population as Christians who, despite being lax in attending Sunday Mass or strictly following the precepts of their faith, hold their religious leaders in high regard much, much more than their political leaders.

I would like to see how this goes. I hope the planners of next Friday’s mass action have taken into consideration the fact that a lot of things have changed since the failed power grab of 8 July 2005. Of course the Catholic Church can still call on one of its most powerful weapons, the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP), which oversees the Catholic schools. That is a force to reckon with, although the Catholic schools, specifically the UCSC, have not engaged in any mass action since the attempted ouster of Chief Justice Davide in 2003.

We’ll see. This would be one interesting pageant to observe.

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