Press Release
May 11, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said proponents of Charter Change through peoples initiative are harboring false hopes by boasting that they are on their way to attaining their objective.

Pimentel said the groups campaign is in fact getting nowhere because of legal obstacles arising from lack of adequate enabling law on peoples initiative to amend the Constitution.

He said this legal infirmity has prompted various groups nationwide to ask the local courts to stop election officials from verifying the signatures gathered by the Charter Change advocates.

The same reason has induced the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to actively campaign against Charter Change, the minority leader said.

Pimentel said it is doubtful whether the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the administration-sponsored peoples initiative for Charter Change judging from the tribunals emphasis on adherence to the Constitution and the rule of law in its decisions on Executive Order 464, calibrated pre-emptive response (CPR) policy and Proclamation 1017 which are preponderantly adverse to Malacañang .

Citing the fact that it was the Supreme Court which held that Republic Act 6735 (Peoples Initiative and Referendum Law) was insufficient to govern Charter Change by peoples initiative, Pimentel said it is doubtful whether the high tribunal will reverse its ruling on the issue.

All the actions of the people and government in a democracy should be in accordance with law. But in the case of peoples initiative for changing the Constitution, they could not point to any valid and binding law that would provide the legal basis for their move. The Supreme Court had struck down Republic Act 6735 as insufficient. In effect there is no applicable law, he said.

Since there is no valid law, Pimentel said the signature-gathering campaign was useless and just a waste of time, efforts and money.

Therefore, he said even if the administration and its hirelings would claim they have gathered 8 million, 10 million signatures or more, that would amount to nothing if the high tribunal would reiterate its original ruling that there was no adequate law yet on peoples initiative as a mode of modifying the Constitution.

Pimentel also disagreed with the observation by one of his chamber colleagues that the senators may be persuaded to support the convening of Congress into a constituent assembly to initiate amendments to the Constitution.

He said the Senate will stick to its stand against the proposal of administration congressmen led by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., for the Senate and House of Representatives to vote jointly on each proposed constitutional amendment.

If they want to do it by constituent assembly, the more they will be courting troubles for their cause. They want to call the shots in amending the Constitution, but that is unacceptable to the senators, Pimentel said.

Senators from both the administration and opposition have crossed partylines when they unanimously approved a resolution that the Senate and House should vote separately on every proposed amendment in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

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