Press Release
December 4, 2008

Pia: Senate opposition to Cha-cha before 2010 should be absolute

Senate opposition member Pia S. Cayetano today supported the mounting public clamor against the ongoing campaign to revise the 1987 Constitution by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's allies at the House of Representatives.

"If Mrs. Arroyo is really sincere about not extending her rule beyond 2010, why won't she publicly express opposition to efforts being pursued by her allies and her very own relatives at the House?" she asked.

"Her continued silence indicates implicit approval for the sham con-ass initiative, and this is fueling public unrest from all sectors, including major religious groups which have chosen to break their silence."

At the same time, Cayetano cautioned her fellow senators against playing into the administration's Cha-cha gambit, stressing that Senate opposition to Charter change before 2010 should be firm and absolute.

"We should not discount the possibility that any Cha-cha measure approved by both chambers before 2010 would be vulnerable to manipulation by the Administration to suit its own ends," she warned.

"The best safeguard against abuse under this regime would be to entertain Cha-cha only after Arroyo steps down after the 2010 elections."

Cayetano said lawmakers should instead focus on more urgent legislation, such as the repeal of Presidential Decree 1177 or the automatic appropriations law.

She said the removal of automatic appropriations for debt service under section 31.B of the said law will allow Congress to exercise check and balance over the debts incurred and paid for by the government, particularly immoral and behest debts.

"The repeal of the automatic appropriations law is more urgent and more worthwhile than revising the 1987 Charter, especially in these times of crisis when the government is scouring for funds to support vulnerable sectors of the economy."

"This will give lawmakers more power to scrutinize payments for debts incurred by the executive branch, particularly those tainted with irregular deals. Congress will also be empowered to realign much needed funds to social services to help the country meet its commitments to reduce poverty and improve education and health programs under the millennium development goals."

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