Monday, August 28, 2006


CODAL expresses its commitment to battle the petition for a people’s initiative that Sigaw ng Bayan will file every step of the way. According to the game plan of pro chacha advocates, SIGAW will file a petition with the COMELEC which will immediately dismiss it due to the permanent injunction, so that SIGAW can immediately go up to the Supreme Court. They then expect the Supreme Court to immediately abandon Santiago vs. Comelec and hastily allow the setting of a plebiscite without any opportunity for opposition. This scheme should not be allowed and must be frustrated at every turn. The Commission on Election is urged to allow those opposing the Petition to be heard before it decides on the issue.

SIGAW Petition is Illegal

The Petition of SIGAW is illegal, as many of the signatures it presented to the COMELEC for verification were not only procured though fraudulent means, but also, many of these signatures were manufactured signatures of dead people or those who have migrated abroad. CODAL, even if we do not believe SIGAW is capable of filing its petition today attaching 10 million signatures as they announced, challenges SIGAW to submit to the COMELEC, together with its Petition, all the supposed millions of signature they were able to procure rather than the mere certification from district Comelec officers. This will give Oppositors the opportunity to scrutinize each and every signature to expose the fraud.

CODAL will also prove the illegality of the petition by questioning the funding of Sigaw, an amorphous NGO that does not have a clear office address, but has the capacity to launch expensive media campaigns and hold forums in almost all the cities and provinces nationwide.

CODAL will also contest the public funds used by local officials in traveling to and from Sigaw activities as misappropriation and therefore a violation of the anti graft law. They must be held to account for the sources of their funding.

SIGAW petition is violates the Constitution and the Supreme Court Decision in Santiago

Firstly, the Constitution only allows a people’s initiative to amend, but not revise, the Constitution. The Sigaw proposal intends to revise the 32 provisions under Article VI on Congress, 23 provisions under Article VII on the President and Vice President and the 27 provisions under the Transitory Provision or a total of at least 82 provisions. This is an overhaul or revision of the 1987 Constitution, which a people’s initiative does not have the power to carry out. It is impossible for signatories, even if they are lawyers, to comprehend the impact and implications of revising 82 sections of the Constitutions thereby nullifying the signatures attached to the SIGAW petition.

Secondly, there is no enabling law as required by Art. XVII, Section 2 which states that ‘Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise’ of the right to peoples initiative. Even the Solicitor General, Eduardo Nachura, when he was a congressman, filed a bill proposing an enabling law for a people’s initiative. This is an admission by the very person tasked to defend charter change in courts that there is indeed no enabling law for a people’s initiative. It must be noted that Solicitor General Nachura’s bill recommended that the proposed question in a peoples initiative must not exceed 100 words, again an admission that such an initiative cannot propose complicated amendments beyond the comprehension of ordinary people.

Thirdly, the Supreme Court has permanently enjoined the COMELEC from entertaining any petition on a peoples’ initiative absent any enabling law.

Pres. Arroyo cannot be impeached next year under the new Constitution

CODAL asks voters whose names appear on the SIGAW list to immediately go to the COMELEC and withdraw their signatures from the list should SIGAW file its petition. The Constitution will not only entrench Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s term until 2010 but will also grant her more powers including the requirement of two thirds vote in the House of Representative before she can be impeached, not just 1/3 as currently required, thereby making it impossible for Pres. Arroyo to be impeached next year. It will also allow her to stay on as Prime Minister beyond 2010. It will cancel the elections in 2007 and will immediately convene the interim parliament to constitute itself as a constituent assembly to further amend the Constitution and provide more damaging economic and political policies. The battle on charter change therefore, is a battle not only between what is legal and illegal but also on what is moral and immoral, requiring the active participation of the people from all walks of life.

Reference Person: Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares


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