Press Release
August 29, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Palace-sponsored Charter Change is destined to sink into the abyss like a wayward, rickety boat because the administration and its allies insist on using unconstitutional methods.

Pimentel said the scheme to amend the Constitution and install a parliamentary system by peoples initiative is flawed in the absence of an adequate enabling law.

On the other hand, he said the plan of the House of Representatives to amend Charter all by itself, being espoused by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., goes against the bicameral nature of Congress and is therefore unconstitutional.

The House decided to go it alone after the Senate unanimously passed a resolution rejecting its position that the two chambers of Congress should vote on all amendments jointly instead of separately as envisioned by framers of the Constitution. This spelled the death of the constituent assembly (Con-As) proposal.

Sigaw ng Bayans deceptive initiative is deader than a stray cat in the alley, Pimentel said.

Speaker de Venecia is trying to bounce the dead cat through the House-only constituent assembly. De Venecias talent is better spent to revive the bangus industry.

Even if the Supreme Court will reverse its 1997 ruling that there was no sufficient law on peoples initiative, Pimentel said Charter Change advocates will still have to overcome other roadblocks.

He said that what may be considered the biggest obstacle to Charter Change is the constitutional mandate that only minor amendments can be undertaken through peoples initiative.

Pimentel said framers of the 1987 Constitution themselves, like Fr. Joaquin Bernad and former Commission on Elections Chairman Christian Monsod, have made it clear that the system of peoples initiative could not apply to major amendments or revisions of the Charter such as the shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government.

He also argued that the active participation of government officials, from Cabinet members to local chief executives and the flagrant use of public funds, have subverted the constitutional intent that the people themselves should directly the initiative to amend the Constitution under this novel scheme.

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