Press Release
February 22, 2009

Chiz says LEDAC should convene to include other pressing economic matters

Opposition senator Chiz Escudero today said the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council's (LEDAC) convening to thresh the issue of convicted American Daniel Smith's custody is a welcome move after weeks of stolid stance from the Arroyo administration against terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

"At least palace people never sat on the laurels of their insensitivity to the people's voices on the matter of VFA. However, it doesn't take a single Juan or two to see that what deal they have struck with VFA is grossly disadvantageous to the Filipino as a people and as a nation."

Escudero said while VFA is among the matters included in the next LEDAC meeting, he reminds the government not to be complacent about consultations with the people before any agreement with foreign entities is made especially if it is of national interest.

"They just said that the president listens to all opinions, including that of abrogating the VFA and that the most prudent thing to do is to go through the process of consultation among all parties concerned. That sounds well, if only this happens in real time."

The senator said the government has a penchant for pretending to value consultation with the people, but only if the nation is lucky enough to get wind of its agreements, which are purposely kept away from the public.

"If indeed people are consulted before an agreement with any nation is sealed, we would not have ZTE, Cyber-Ed or this one-sided VFA in our midst, because we would have already seen and prevented foreign entities from looting us of our rights and dues."

Inclusion of the VFA in the LEDAC meeting, Escudero said should not leave out other pressing matters like financial crisis and job displacement which he said are already felt by Filipinos.

"Now is the time to unite and coordinate efforts at all fronts. Just today, Malacanang is quoted as appealing for an end to speculations about term extension plans through cha-cha. Before they call on the public, they must first rein in on their allies who are turbo-charging cha-cha like crazy. There is no public clamor for cha-cha, so what this administration need is an introspection."

Escudero is urging his colleagues in Congress to drop all cha-cha moves now, and this he said is what the palace should also do.

"As I call on our colleagues to instead focus on legislation that zeroes in on addressing the economic crisis, this administration should be the first in the battle ground, and not battling with the inevitability of its term expiration in 2010."

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