Carvajal: Politically expedient afterthought

Those who responded to a Pulse Asia survey as hopeful for 2023 cannot possibly expect relief or opportunity from the charter change (cha-cha) Congress has lately committed to undertake in 2023. I doubt if these folks know and care a hoot about the planned changes.

Anyway, it really doesn’t matter since representatives of the country’s business elite, Congress’ exclusive denizens, are doing it as a constituent assembly. Without marginalized sector representatives, cha-cha will presumably cater to elite wants directly and only indirectly to ordinary folks’ musts.

The Philippines is heavily entangled in a neo-liberal capitalist economic system that mechanically results in the enrichment of a few owners of land and industry and impoverishes a much bigger number who must be content with whatever trickles down to them. Filipino capitalists and politicians seem to have no qualms running the system strictly by the market’s law of supply and demand, setting aside the moral law that demands justice and equity in the sharing of a country’s resources.

Thus, poverty afflicts the country on a massive scale. Not as an aside but as part of the problem, it doesn’t help that the Philippine Catholic Church pays no heed to Pope Francis’ call for equitable socio-economic structures but instead accepts capitalism as heaven-sent and assures people the sufferings this inherently unjust system causes them are really blessings in disguise.

Cha-cha would help reduce massive poverty in the country if capitalism were at least moderated with structural changes that facilitate a just and equitable distribution of the country’s resources. Cha-cha would also help if elite democracy were removed with a constitutional provision requiring the state to promote and fund the formation of a workers’ party so as to insure proportionate (as opposed to exclusive) representation in Congress.

But with Congress doing cha-cha as a constituent assembly, these positive systemic changes are not likely to be discussed, let alone passed. Congress represents capitalism’s principal beneficiaries and will refuse to make substantive changes to the system for the obvious reason that they loathe having to give up their privileged positions in it. Solid proof of this is their refusal to come up with an implementing law for the constitutional ban on political dynasties.

They will introduce economic changes that directly grow their businesses but only indirectly alleviate the poverty of millions of Filipinos. They will maintain a vise-grip on the political system that guarantees their continued control of an economy that near-exclusively benefits them.

A constitutional convention would do a much better job at cha-cha. A self-serving constituent assembly will stick to economic changes that address the wants of the country’s business elite. It would consider the needs of small folks only as a politically expedient afterthought.