Press Release
March 24, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the move to amend the 1987 Constitution by peoples initiative will not prosper if Malacañang , congressional and local government officials will act as prime movers and financiers of this political activity.

Pimentel said the direct involvement of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, provincial governors and city and municipal mayors in the holding of barangay assemblies to gather signatures for Charter Change will violate the constitutional intent that it is the ordinary people themselves who should directly propose amendments to the Constitution under the principle of peoples initiative.

He said such undertaking will be an exercise in futility because the petition is in danger of being thrown out by election and judicial authorities in view of the fact that public officials, from the President down to the local officials, have no business acting as sponsors and organizers of the move to revise the Constitution through peoples initiative.

Pimentel also warned that the use of public funds for peoples initiative would be sufficient ground to nullify the process.

He was reacting to the appearance of full-page advertisements on peoples initiative in national dailies and the reports that governors and mayors have allocated funds for the holding of the signature campaign.

He recalled that during the previous attempt to amend the Constitutional in 1997 through peoples initiative, to lift the ban against the reelection of an incumbent president, the organizers had at least the decency to put up a private organization called Peoples Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA).

He also asserted that the system of peoples initiative was designed by the framers of the 1987 Constitution to apply only to minor or simple amendments, and not to wholesale revision of the Constitution that aims to install a parliamentary system of government.

Moreover, he said the Supreme Court in March, 1997 rules that Republic Act 6735, the Law on Peoples Initiative and Referendum, was insufficient to cover the system of peoples initiative envisioned under the 1987 Constitution. The high court held that RA 6735 applies only to initiatives to amend national and local laws.

The high tribunal, in the same ruling, said the Commission on Elections should be permanently enjoined from entertaining or taking cognizance of any petition of initiative on amendment to the Constitution until a sufficient law shall have been validly enacted to provide for the implementation of the system.

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