Press Release
April 20, 2009

Charter Change meant to protect GMA

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today warned that the proposal to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution is being used by the administration to camouflage the real purpose of Charter Change which is to serve the selfish interest of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Pimentel said that the administration's hidden agenda for Charter Change originally called for allowing the President to stay in power beyond 2010 by lifting the term limits on elective officials and adopting a unicameral parliamentary system of government.

But he said the administration has apparently dropped the plan to lift term limits after realizing that it will not work in the face of public outrage over the obnoxious proposal.

The administration, according to the minority leader, has changed tack by now aiming to insert an "impunity clause" that will protect the president from suits even after stepping down.

"It is not true that they will concentrate only on the economic provisions. They want an impunity provision that will assure that the immunity privilege that Gloria enjoys will continue even after her term," Pimentel said.

"Now they are having cold feet in pushing for term extension because the devious purpose of that has become too obvious. Instead they are thinking of a way by which the immunity of the President will continue even after her term. They may try to surreptitiously put an impunity clause at the last minute."

He said the administration is trying to mislead lawmakers and the Filipino people into backing Charter Change by making it appear that it is mainly aimed at amending the economic provisions to make the country attractive to foreign investments.

Commenting on report that the House leadership will attempt to railroad the approval of the Palace-sponsored resolution to convene a Constituent Assembly, Pimentel doubted whether it will succeed in the face of reports that many of the 178 congressmen who have signed the resolution are vacillating on their stand.

He said these congressmen are contemplating on withdrawing their support for Charter Change if the plan is to allow the House of Representatives to unilaterally amend the Constitution in view of the Senate's unanimous objection.

"They are probably aware that majority of their constituents frown on Charter Change and they face the risk of losing their reelection bid in 2010 if they keep on supporting this very unpopular proposal," the opposition leader said.

Pimentel noted that some administration congressmen like Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman have openly defied the administration's Charter Change plan. A Lakas faction led by former Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. is also opposed to Charter Change.

The senator from Mindanao said he has opted to put his proposal for a federal system government in freezer because he did not want the administration to cash in on this well-meaning scheme in order to gain support for a fake version of Charter Change.

News Latest News Feed