Press Release
August 26, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Arroyo administration is pushing for Charter Change at all costs and despite overwhelming constitutional obstacles to evade the wrath of the Filipino people disenchanted with its years of misrule and abuse of power which will be fatal to its candidates if the 2007 congressional election under the existing presidential system will push through.

Pimentel said the administration fears of losing its dominance in the House of Representatives as the reelection chances of many pro-Arroyo congressmen hang in the balance for continuously supporting a president whose legitimacy is in question and for throwing out the impeachment complaint against her in defiance of the preponderant sentiments of their district constituents and the general public.

He said the administration is also wary of the fact that it has already lost control of the Senate. The administration, he said, knows that its chances of recapturing control of the Senate is nil in the light of public opinion surveys consistently showing that opposition contenders will sweep next years senatorial election.

It is clear therefore that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her political cohorts are moving heaven and earth to dismantle Congress and the present system of government in their desperation to ensure their political survival, Pimentel said.

He said the immediate aim of Charter Change whether by peoples initiative or by Congress acting as constituent assembly is to install a parliamentary system with a unicameral Interim Parliament.

Pimentel said the administrations game plan to maintain its hold on the legislature is to make the incumbent senators, and congressmen, together with some members of Cabinet, automatic members of the Interim Parliament which will exist until 2010.

He said the Interim Parliament is likely to resurrect the Palaces original plan, as contained in the recommendation of the Consultative Commission on Constitutional Amendments, to do away with the 2007 legislative elections.

Reacting to the joint petition of Sigaw ng Bayan coalition and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) with the Commission on Elections for the holding of a plebiscite on the proposed Charter amendments under the system of peoples initiative, Pimentel said he could not see how this will prosper in view of the 1997 ruling of the Supreme Court that there is no sufficient law yet to govern the process of amending the Constitution through peoples initiative.

He said that even Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos had acknowledged during a Senate public hearing that the poll body is permanently enjoined by the SC ruling from entertaining petitions for peoples initiative to amend the Charter.

The absence of an enabling law is a big legal impediment to Charter Change. So even if they claim that they have gathered 10 million or 20 million signatures, that will not justify the move for constitutional amendment. That petition has nowhere to go, he said.

Pimentel also said that the Charter Change advocates are facing a formidable challenge from the oppositors, led by Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati City and Jayvee Ejercito of San Juan, Metro Manila who claim that most of the signatures of their constituents under this political process were obtained through fraudulent means.

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