Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sigaw ng Bayan is Day Dreaming--CODAL

3% minimum for each legislative district has NOT been complied with

The Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL), through its spokesman Atty. Neri Colmenares, yesterday debunked as “over-imagination or pure daydreaming” the claim of Raul Lambino of the Sigaw ng Bayan movement that the people’s initiative will proceed and result to an interim parliament by August.

“The claim of the Sigaw ng Bayan that the people’s initiative will result to an interim parliament by August is a product of over-imagination or pure daydreaming by its proponents. Aside from the lack of an enabling law upon which it may only be implemented, the verification of signatures has not been completed in several congressional districts,” Colmenares said in a press statement.

Colmenares, also a convenor of the People’s March against Cha-Cha mentioned the various districts in Metro Manila, Capiz, General Santos City and other provinces where the People’s Initiative is encountering rough sailing because of the failure of its proponents to gather sufficient number of signatures.

“This is also due to the preliminary injunction issued by the court of Roxas City and the temporary restraining order (TRO) of the court of General Santos against the Sigaw ng Bayan.

“Lambino should tell the Filipino people the truth that his group has not complied with the minimum three percent voter requirements per district as the constitution provides,” she said.

Colmenares reiterated that failure in any district is fatal to the proposition, which on its face is already even subject to major legal questions due to the lack of an enabling law as ruled upon by the Supreme Court in the 1997 case of Santiago vs. COMELEC.

Reports show that several cities of Metro Manila such as Makati and Paranaque have not finished the verification process, especially in light of the position of COMELEC Metro Manila Director Rafanan that an en banc COMELEC resolution is needed before any COMELEC officer may verify any signature.

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In General Santos City, there is a standing temporary restraining order versus the initiative, and based on a report by City Election Officer Atty. Jose Villanueva, only 2,679 signatures out of the 247,466 total registered voters of the city “appeared similar” during the initial verification process.

“If this is true, this is only one percent of the total registered voters. With the TRO, it remains to be seen when the verification will resume so that it will be determined if indeed the minimum three percent has been achieved by Sigaw ng Bayan.

In Roxas City, where a preliminary injunction has been issued by RTC Judge Edward Contreras, it has also been shown that numerous persons whose signatures have been allegedly verified have come out and executed affidavits denying that they signed the people’s initiative petition.

This is in light of the hasty and questionable issuance of a statement by the Capiz COMELEC Provincial Officer, Nelly Abao-Lee, that the three percent requirement has been allegedly met even before the issuance of a TRO.

“The undue haste by which Ms. Abao-Lee issued the certification is highly suspect since it circumvents the TRO and guidelines of the COMELEC itself. With the numerous complaints of alleged signatories that their signatures were forged, how could she certify such an unfounded statement?” Colmenares asked.

The CODAL spokesperson also bared that no reports on the number of signatures verified from the election officers of Roxas City and Pontevedra town have been submitted to Abao-Lee.

“Abao-Lee did not perform any verification herself either,” Colmenares said, saying that only the City or Municipal Election Officers may do this function.

Also, Colmenares noted the statement of COMELEC spokesperson Jimmy Jimenez who had said that “only the COMELEC en banc may perform the act of certification and not any other COMELEC officer.”

“Even the Solicitor General did not raise this factual situation in its motion to dismiss the TRO in Roxas City. Clearly, it is an after-thought strategy to let the people’s initiative of Sigaw ng Bayan push through despite the increased anti-people’s initiative sentiments in Capiz,” Colmenares added.

Colmenares is currently coordinating with Rey Antonio “Bingo” Altavas, the petitioner in the Roxas City case, and his legal counsel, Atty. Ray Fagutao, to finalize the graft and corruption cases that they will file against Nelly Abao-Lee before the Office of the Ombudsman. Colmenares stated that Abao-Lee would be charged for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, the Omnibus Election Code and the Revised Penal Code.


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