Monday, April 10, 2006


CODAL is shocked to realize that the so called “People’s Initiative” is nothing more than a fraudulent means to ensure revision of the Constitution through a “Constituent Assembly”. The constitutional revision proposed in the initiative contains the following proposal under its proposed Art. VII, Section 4 (4):

Within forty-five days from ratification of these amendments, the interim Parliament shall convene to propose amendments to or revision of, this Constitution with the principles of local autonomy, decentralization and a strong bureaucracy.

The above amendment simply means that the new Parliament will immediately convene as a ‘con ass’ after the ratification of the new Constitution to further amend or revise the newly ratified Constitution. It is under this “new parliament” that proposals by the Jaraulla Committee and the Constitutional Commission on economy and patrimony, elimination of martial law checks and balances, deletion of military bases prohibition, deletion of ‘nuclear weapons free provision’ and other substantial revisions will be instituted. Worse, this means that another Plebiscite will be held in 2006 to approve additional revisions to the Constitution, a waste and a misappropriation of public funds since none of these are in the 2006 budget, a case of malversation and graft.

The initiative is therefore fraudulent and illegal because the signatories do not know nor approve of the supposed ‘future’ revisions since these were not stated in the Petition. Those signing the peoples initiative could not have known what ‘principles of local autonomy, decentralization and strong bureaucracy’ means, adding one more ground why the whole initiative unconstitutional.

Parliament composed on Presidential Appointees

Pres. Arroyo will be granted the power to appoint members of her cabinet to parliament by the insertion of the following :

Sec. 4 (1) There shall exist upon the ratification of these amendments, an interim Parliament which shall continue until the members of the regular parliament shall have been elected and shall have qualified. Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the incumbent Members of the Cabinet who are heads of executive departments.

This provision packs the ‘parliament’ with presidential allies and is akin to Pres. Ferdinand Marcos appointing sectoral representatives to the Interim Batasang Pambansa during martial law. This also makes many members of the said Parliament, especially members of the House of Representatives, unelected by the people. Furthermore, this provides for a ‘no election’ scenario under Section 4 (1) which extends the term of members of the House to 2010 or until a ‘regular parliament shall have been elected’.

Lastly, there is no explanation why the terms of House members are extended while Senators whose terms of office also ends in 2007 will not be members of the ‘parliament’ as provided in Sec. 4 (3) “Senators whose term of office ends in 2010 shall be Members of the Parliament until noon of the thirtieth of June 2010”.

Cha-cha to make impeachment almost impossible

CODAL also condemns the insertion of a provision in Art. VII, Sec. 1 (2) of the proposed revision making the president secure from opposition moves to impeach her:

Sec. 1 (2) The incumbent President and Vice-President shall serve until the expiration of their term at noon on the thirtieth day of June 2010 and shall continue to exercise their powers under the 1987 Constitution unless impeached by a vote of two-thirds of all members of the interim parliament.

Unless initiated by Speaker Jose de Venecia, it is almost impossible to impeach the President considering that the opposition even failed to muster the current 1/3 requirement to impeach the President under the 1987 Constitution. The only way the President will be impeached is, if Speaker de Venecia will support impeachment proceedings against her and Vice-President Noli de Castro, in which case Speaker de Venecia becomes the Head of Government and State upon their removal as provided in Sec. 1 (2) of the proposed revision which states that :

Sec. 1 (2) … In case of death, permanent disability, resignation or removal from office of both the incumbent President and Vice-President, the interim Prime Minister shall assume all the powers and responsibilities of the Prime Minister under Art. VII as amended.

One subject

Presuming that RA 6735 is valid, the current initiative will still be illegal since it encompasses many subjects namely, shift from presidential to parliamentary form of government, giving prime ministerial powers to a President even if she is not a member of the Parliament, extending the terms of congressmen (but not the senators) beyond 2007 by appointing them to the parliament, appointing members of the Cabinet to parliament, and worse, granting the new parliament the power to act as a constituent assembly and propose more revisions to the Constitution. Under RA 6735, a people’s initiative can only tackle one subject.

From all angles therefore, the peoples initiative is constitutionally and legally doomed despite the support of Pres. Arroyo. The chacha train may have left the station, but it has nowhere to go but a cliff. The attack against critiques of the initiative such as the CBCP and Fr. Joaquin Bernas are not only baseless but are also uncalled for. CODAL asks Pres. Arroyo to put forward the evidence to prove that the ‘leftists’ managed to manipulate the CBCP into coming out with its criticism on the initiative. CODAL hails the statements of the CBCP and Fr. Bernas as source of enlightenment in the midst of misinformation and deception.

Reference : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares- Spokesperson
Date : 10 April 2006


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