Press Release
March 31, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today denounced Malacañang s attempt to bribe local government officials with a three-year extension of their term of office in exchange for their support for fast tracking of Charter Change through peoples initiative to pave the way for the shift to a unicameral parliamentary system of government.

Pimentel said the extension of the tenure of governors, mayors and other local executives beyond the 1997 expiration of their three-year term on June 30, 2007 partly explains the claim of administration leaders that majority of the 79 provincial governors have allegedly committed to solicit the required number of signatures in support of the petition for Charter Change equivalent to 3 percent of the voting population in each congressional district.

He said the scrapping of the 2007 elections and the automatic extension of the terms of local officials, as well as congressmen and senators which will lapse on June 30, 2007 is in fact one of the major recommendations of the Consultative Commission, composed of Arroyo appointees, which prepared the draft of the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

The no-election scenario is being used as a come-on to local officials, a quid pro quo in the same manner that the senators are being bribed with an extension of their term for three more years, Pimentel said.

As proposed by the Consultative Commission, whose 55 members were all Arroyo appointees, the senators and congressmen whose term will end in mid-1997, will automatically sit in the Interim Parliament.

Also part of the administrations blueprint for Cha Cha, according to Pimentel, is to allow President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stay in office even after a parliamentary system is adopted and put in place. Arroyo will continue to act as head of government and head of state and wield even greater powers.

Pimentel accused Malacañang of deception and lack of transparency in pushing for the no-el scheme, term extension of elected public officials and Mrs. Arroyos continued stay in office.

He said the instruction of the Palace to the barangay and other local government officials who are at the forefront of the ongoing signature campaign for Charter Change was to avoid discussion of these specific proposals, knowing how repugnant they are to the people. He said the dubious instruction was transmitted to the local officials through Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

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