Press Release
June 17, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today debunked the claim of officials and allies of the administration that former President Fidel Ramos support for peoples initiative will be a big plus factor in pursuing Charter Change to pave the way for the adoption of a unicameral parliamentary system of government.

Pimentel said Mr. Ramos may even prove a liability to this political process because he has an ulterior motive for doing so which may even turn off the people.

He said the former president is pushing for Charter Change because he wanted to alter a provision in the Constitution that gives the Supreme Court the right to decide on economic decisions of the Executive in the light of his erroneous decision during his presidency to grant tax privileges and other incentives to locators at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and Baguio City special economic zone (Camp John Hay) which the high tribunal had struck down as illegal last year.

Ramos support for Charter Change is no plus for Cha Cha. On the contrary, it may even be bad for Cha Cha because of his motives. Among them is his belated attempt to rectify the error he had made in granting as privileges to locators of Clark and Baguio special economic zone so that the Supreme Court is deprived of jurisdiction over economic decisions made by the Executive, Pimentel said.

Pimentel said the President, under the 1987 Constitution, and existing laws, cannot extend tax incentives without the authority of Congress. He said the former president believes that this blunder of his administration could be remedied through Charter Change.

He said the avowed plan of Mr. Ramos to play the role of constitutional warrior will not help the cause of Charter Change any unless the legal impediments to peoples initiative as a mode of amending the Charter are cured by Congress or resolved by the Supreme Court.

Pimentel said the Supreme Court in 1997 ruled that there was no sufficient enabling law to govern the system of peoples initiative in amending the Constitution.

On account of this adverse decision, he said the attempt of the Peoples Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA) to lift the constitutional ban against the reelection of Mr. Ramos did not prosper.

Pimentel also cited the contention of the framers of the 1987 Constitution that peoples initiative was intended only for simple or piecemeal amendments, and not a wholesale revision of the Constitution which will be the net effect of changing the system of government being advocated by the Arroyo administration.

On top of these factors, he said Charter Change is being strongly resisted by majority of the citizenry because of the perception that it is being used by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to divert public attention away from the scandals of her administration and to allow her to stay in office despite the unresolved question of her legitimacy.

The people abhor giving any support to Charter Change under the present circumstances, Pimentel said.

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