Press Release
February 21, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the administration and its legislative allies are wrong if they think they can push ahead with Charter Change by bribing members of Congress with automatic membership in the proposed unicameral parliament.

Pimentel accused the administration of double-talk and unstatesmanly behavior by resurrecting the scheme to scrap the 2007 elections and to allow incumbent lawmakers to sit in a so-callled Interim Parliament that will be formed upon the ratification of amendments to the Constitution, the main feature of which is the adoption of a parliamentary system.

He said the sinister scheme is embodied in Article XVIII (Transitory Provisions) of the resolution proposing the revision of the 1987 Constitution which was drafted by the House committee on constitutional amendments and revision of laws.

Pimentel said it is the height of deception for the President and her political lieutenants led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. to revive the no-election proposal and reward pro-Charter Change legislators with parliamentary seats after they publicly declared that they were not pushing for the twin proposal.

The administration earlier denied that it was endorsing the no-election scheme after it was severely criticized by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

We are very much against the proposal because it is clear that automatic membership in the parliament that will replace Congress is brazen act of bribery, Pimentel said.

The minority leader said the bribery attempt is obviously intended to entice congressmen and senators to support Charter Change especially in the light of the administration campaign to gather 195 signatures from among the senators and congressmen for a resolution seeking to convert Congress into a Constituent Assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Pimentel branded as patently unconstitutional the claim of Speaker De Venecia, Jr. that Congress can convert itself into a constituent assembly through a three-fourths vote of all the senators and congressmen, voting together.

He said this is contrary to the bicameral character of Congress which mandates that all bills and resolutions should be approved by the Senate and House of Representatives through separate voting.

The administration is so desperate to get Charter Change moving and have the proposed amendments approved that they dont mind whether their proposition does not conform with the process laid down by the Constitution, Pimentel said.

The minority leader said the denial of Malacañang and its legislative allies that they have resurrected the no-election scheme falls flat in the light of the wording of the Transitory Provisions in the House draft amendments that states: The unicameral parliamentary system and the parliament provided herein shall begin immediately after ratification of these amendments, with the present Congress converted into the Interim Parliament and all members thereof shall become automatic members of the Interim Parliament until June 30, 2007 except for the senators elected in May 2004. The Interim Parliament shall set the first elections under the new system and synchronized therewith the elections for all local officials except those of the barangays.

Pimentel pointed out that although the proposal provides that the Interim Parliament shall set the first elections under the parliamentary system, it does not mention when such political exercise shall be held.

He also laughed off De Venecias statement that the Senate will find itself becoming irrelevant if it will continue to stonewall on Charter Change.

Pimentel said the House speaker is the one in danger of becoming irrelevant for espousing Charter Change whose principal aim is to perpetuate President Arroyo in power despite her loss of credibility and moral authority to govern due to allegations of cheating in the 2004 elections and other scandals hounding her administration.

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