Press Release
December 24, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the administration is just making a fool of itself by attempting to launch another peoples initiative to amend the Constitution.

Pimentel was reacting to reports that the administration-friendly Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) is poised to file a second petition with the Commission on Elections to amend the Charter Change through peoples initiative.

This time, the aim of the petition is to convert the bicameral Congress into a unicameral legislature, according to Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, spokesman of the League of Provinces, one of the leagues of local government under the ULAP umbrella.

Pimentel said the new Charter Change gameplan of ULAP is already dead in the water even before it could take off the ground because of insurmountable legal and physical constraints.

He cited reports that proponents of the new peoples initiative are aiming to solicit the necessary signatures and submit the same to the Comelec before the end of January.

I cannot see how they can do that within that short period of time unless they will resort to submitting fake signatures as they did in the first petition for peoples initiative, Pimentel said.

The minority leader noted that it took ULAP, together with the Sigaw ng Bayan coalition several months before they supposedly completed the signature-gathering for the first peoples initiative petition.

Pimentel warned Charter Change advocates not to commit the mistake of recycling the signatures gathered for the first peoples initiative petition in pursuing their new plan.

The lone senator from Mindanao also argued that it is useless to relaunch Charter Change because it has been overtaken by the mid-term elections next year, with the filing of certificates of candidacy to begin by mid-January.

Pimentel said that the Charter Change advocates may have misread or deliberately distorted the Supreme Courts recent decision upholding the constitutionality of the Law on Peoples Initiative and Referendum (Republic Act 6735) when they cited this as the reason which emboldened them to attempt a second petition for peoples initiative.

He doubted whether the proposal to convert congress from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature can be validly pursued through peoples initiative on the basis of the high courts decision on the validity of RA 6735.

The high courts ruling was very clear that peoples initiative applies only to simple or minor amendments. And to change the Congress from a bicameral to a unicameral body, in effect abolishing the Senate and House of Representatives, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered a minor amendment, Pimentel said.

In fact, he said the proposed conversion of the bicameral Congress into a unicameral body is a major and complex amendment that amounts to what the SC decision called revision of the Constitution which can be undertaken only by a deliberative body like Congress or Constitutional Convention.

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