Press Release
October 9, 2006

Drilon lauds volunteer lawyers for exposing massive fraud in cha-cha signature campaign

Liberal Party (LP) leaders today commended volunteer lawyers and law students who exposed the widespread discrepancies and anomalies in the alleged millions of signatures gathered by Sigaw ng Bayan in favor of amendments to the Constitution under a supposed People's Initiative.

LP President Franklin Drilon noted that in a matter of four days last week, volunteer lawyers from the One Voice Movement, the Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (Codal), the Alternative Law Group (ALG) as well as law students from the Ateneo School of Law "were able to uncover multiple entries of signatures, certificates of verification done at the instance of municipal mayors, and failure to reach the required three percent in at least three legislative districts."

"The question is who sponsored this mess? Who should be held accountable for organizing such a grand deception using the name of the Filipino people?" Drilon said.

LP Secretary General Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta, for his part, twitted Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye for insisting that the People's Initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution was the "true voice of the people" despite pervasive proof of fraud and deception.

Acosta noted that Bunye himself admitted during the Senate hearing on the proposed 2007 budget of the Office of the Press Secretary that Malacañang was funding the pro-charter change campaign of Sigaw ng Bayan.

During last week Senate hearing, Drilon noted that officials assigned with the various attached agencies of Bunye's office admitted that some P10 million in public funds were being used to promote the so-called People's Initiative being pushed by Sigaw ng Bayan and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).

"The true voice of the people will come out next year, with the national elections, but apparently the administration prefers the fake, predictable and controlled voices of Sigaw ng Bayan to the real, authentic, undeniable democratic voice of our people," Acosta said.

Earlier, the Supreme Court ordered the Commission on Elections to grant access to counsels opposed to the Sigaw ng Bayan's people's initiative so that they could examine the signature sheets and certificates issued by the different election officers.

The volunteer lawyers, Carlos Medina of One Voice; Neri Colmenares of the Counsel for the Defense of Civil Liberties, Koko Pimentel, Marlon Manuel of the Alternative Law Group, Abigail Binay of the Office of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay and law students from the Ateneo School of Law were given four days last week to examine the documents and signature sheets stored at the law department of the Commission on Elections.

Drilon pointed out that with the unraveling of the bogus people's initiative, the Senate expects more pressure from their House counterparts to pass a resolution for a Constituent Assembly.

"Obviously, the drive to change the Constitution is being accelerated to defeat the midterm elections. However, time is not on their side with the election fever now more palpable as the different political parties prepare for the 2007 polls," Drilon added.

Acosta said LP leaders in both the House and the Senate would ask Palace officials to submit a report on the expenses incurred by the Charter Change Advocacy Commission in its eight months of operations.

"Since the Advocacy Commission was created by an executive order, it used public funds to sustain its operations. Initially, this body was granted P5 million. The people are entitled to know how much in terms of allowances, travel expenses, and other expenses connected to its advocacy in favor of Charter change was spent for by our taxpayers," Acosta said.

Drilon expressed optimism that the high tribunal will give serious consideration to the anomalies uncovered by One Voice and other law groups in their examination of Sigaw's documents and signature sheets.

"Let us also remind the people that there are also several arguments against this fake people's initiative. For example, what Sigaw ng Bayan and ULAP are proposing are revisions of the Constitution, not the simple amendments that a people's initiative must be used for. As defenders of the Constitution, I am confident that our Supreme Court justices will be mindful of the risks to our democracy and institutions once the Constitution is allowed to be changed through unlawful means."

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