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Members of Koalisyon Laban sa ChaCha trooped to Plaza Roma on Thursday, February 22, to pray for the country and gather against the continued push for Charter Change.

Coalition members, composed of various religious groups and people’s organizations, urged the government to instead focus on addressing Filipinos’ true concerns — amplifying the calls for ending hunger and poverty, creating better jobs and pushing for higher wages, providing affordable housing, ensuring quality education, preserving the environment, and protecting human rights.

“We pray that our leaders will not be led into the temptation of changing the Constitution for power and riches but instead be steadfast in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities as servant-leaders of the people,” said Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Chair of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for Social Action, Justice and Peace, who is one of the convenors of the Koalisyon.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, another Koalisyon convenor, called on other government officials to deeply reflect on their role in society and follow the call of Pope Francis to engage in a better kind of politics for the common good.

“We have been selected by the people to serve their interests and not to be served. I hope my fellow lawmakers and other government officials realize this in their reflection and finally shun the present push for ChaCha,” Hontiveros said.

Koalisyon Laban sa ChaCha’s mass action started with an ecumenical gathering comprising three parts: Panaghoy, Panalangin, and Paninindigan, signifying the group’s collective call for discernment against any attempt to alter the Constitution that could undermine democratic principles and people’s rights.

In Panaghoy, sectoral and community leaders highlighted the lived experience of the poor and their pressing concerns such as hunger, joblessness, climate change, and human rights.

Josua Mata from Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa and Nagkaisa Labor Coalition reminded legislators of the teachings by the Church on the life and dignity of the human person and labor and urged them to uphold this instead of prioritizing ChaCha.

“Ang mga mahihirap at mga manggagawa dapat ang pangunahing binibigyan ng atensyon ng ating gubyerno. Sana nakikikinig ang ating mga lider sa hinaing natin at mangunang tumugon sa mga ito. Gubyerno dapat ang nangungunang siguraduhin na sa usapin ng kaunlaran, walang maiiwan, lalo na ang mga mahihirap rating kababayan,” Mata said.

Meanwhile, in Panalangin, priests, religious men and women, and pastors led the Koalisyon members in prayer and spoke about the ethical and moral concerns surrounding ChaCha, as well as the profound responsibility of every Christian to uphold our faith-based values and principles.

“Ang Pilipinas nga raw ang lupang hinirang. Patuloy sana tayong pagpalain ng Diyos at gabayan, lalong-lalo na sa mga importanteng desisyon na makakaapekto ‘di lang sa atin, kundi pati na rin sa mga susunod na henerasyon,” said Fr. Arnel Glodobe, O Carm, of Caritas Philippines.

Finally, in Paninindigan, convenors of the coalition laid out campaign plans and actions to raise awareness on ChaCha and defeat proposals to change the Constitution, with a shared commitment to raise awareness against the present plans for Charter change

AKBAYAN Youth’s Justine Balane appealed to the younger generation to be a good example of being Filipino youth, and even those in positions of power, by committing to campaign against ChaCha.

“We are taught that the young should be an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. May all Filipino youth fulfill this calling through their advocacy to preserve the soul of the nation,” Balane said.

Paeng David of Tindig Pilipinas/Buhay ang EDSA Campaign Network expressed hope that, just like during the People Power Revolution, all Filipinos may be guided by their faith to see the truth and act for the betterment of the country.

“We in the Koalisyon Laban sa ChaCha will continue to pray for every Filipino that they may continue to reflect and see through the smoke and mirrors of ChaCha,” David said. “May God help us in our continued fight.”