Press Release
January 21, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the administration will be starting on the wrong foot in pursuing Charter Change if it will tap local government executives for soliciting signatures in support of this objective through the system of peoples initiative.

Pimentel pointed out that the governors and mayors are legally barred from spearheading the peoples initiative since this method, by its very name and constitutional intent, should be undertaken directly by the people or voters in their private capacity.

The attempt of local government officials to push for constitutional amendments under the guise of a peoples initiative is a tainted process and therefore will not prosper.

They are the wrong persons to sponsor a peoples initiative since this is a function that should be left to the people, he explained.

The minority leader said this is unlike the first two constitutionally-prescribed modes of amendments Congress as constituent assembly and a Constitutional Convention which can be undertaken and funded by the government.

Pimentel said the peoples initiative to be launched next month under the aegis of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) would be an exercise in futility because it will be in excess of their authority.

He argued that since a peoples initiative is envisioned to be a purely private effort of registered voters, no public funds can be used for this activity and no public officials can validly push for it.

Pimentel expressed apprehension that Malacañang will siphon off funds to the ULAP-sponsored peoples initiative out of the reenacted 2005 national budget, which he said has been virtually converted into a pork barrel to be released at the discretion of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Supreme Court, in a decision rendered in March, 1997, ruled that no valid peoples initiative can be undertaken until Congress enacts a law that will govern the system of peoples initiatives of referendum embodied under the 1987 Constitution.

The high tribunal held that Republic Act 6735 was insufficient to govern the holding of peoples initiative to amend the Constitution since it applies only to initiatives to amend national and local laws.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone ULAP spokesman, said ULAP is readying a petition with the Supreme Court to overturn its 1997 ruling on the issue.

I would advise Gov. Evardone to focus his attention on addressing the illegal logging problem in his province. He should realize that it is not for electoral public officials like him to involve themselves in the peoples initiative, Pimentel said.

News Latest News Feed