Monday, October 30, 2006


CODAL hails the Supreme Court decision dismissing the Sigaw ng Bayan petition for a peoples initiative. We commend the eight Supreme Court justices for asserting their independence despite the open and public pressure applied on the tribunal. We urge members of the Arroyo cabinet to refrain from exerting pressure on the justices through public pronouncements that tend to threaten or discredit the Supreme Court decision. We demand that Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s appointment of a new justice to replace Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban should be based on integrity, independence and legal capabilities rather than on his or her position on charter change. We demand that whoever is appointed should inhibit himself from issues related to charter change to erase doubts on the integrity of the appointment and the Court’s final decision on the issue.

Intervention and Pressure

CODAL is seriously concerned by the pronouncements of public officials pressuring or discrediting the Supreme Court considering that, unlike private individuals, these public officials have the resources and influence to pressure the Supreme Court particularly in the appointment of justices. Sec. Raul Gonzalez is possibly the only Justice Secretary ever who publicly discredited the very justice system he administers by declaring that the Court’s decision was ‘railroaded or rushed’ for the personal interest of the justices implying that justice and due process were not served by the decision. We ask Pres. Arroyo to fire Sec. Gonzalez for his shameless intervention on the issue thereby compromising even his position as Justice Secretary. Sec. Gonzalez, who will be appointed to the Interim Parliament under the Sigaw proposed Constitution, should refrain from attacking the decision, including his colleague Sec. Avelino Cruz, since his statements will be self serving considering that he stands to personally gain under the new Constitution as a new member of the Interim Parliament and the resulting Constituent Assembly. CODAL which plans to have public officials investigated and prosecuted for the misuse of public funds on the ostensibly private endeavor called the “peoples initiative” cannot now expect impartial investigation and prosecution by the Department of Justice of those found to have misappropriated public funds because the Justice Secretary has once again prejudged the case.

The Supreme Court decision was legally sound and based on constitutional issues, and not on mere issues of fact as Sigaw wishes to portray. The initiative petition was a revision in violation of Art. VII, Section 2 of the Constitution. The signatories did not sign the petition itself but mere signature sheets as admitted by Sigaw, proof that Sigaw failed to show that the people read or were aware of the contents of the petition. Since this fact was admitted by Sigaw, there was no factual issue that needs to be investigated or ‘tried’ by the Supreme Court. It is an entrench legal principle that the one who alleges has the burden of proving the allegation. Since Sigaw failed to prove that the petition was read by the signatories, then it is imperative on the Court to dismiss the petition. Many of the signatories for example were not aware that members of the Arroyo Cabinet, such as Sec. Raul Gonzalez, will become members of a powerful ‘Interim Parliament’ who will again amend the Constitution and decide when to hold the next election and when their terms of office will end. The decision saved the nation from the dangers of being ruled by an amorphous Interim Parliament under a more powerful Pres. Arroyo who are both given the ‘constitutional authority’ to perpetuate themselves in power beyond 2010 as outlined in the Sigaw proposed Constitution.


CODAL demands that the new justice to be appointed by Pres. Arroyo inhibit from voting on the Sigaw petition and other issues related to charter change to ensure credibility of the decision and avoid a constitutional crisis that will ensue should the Court’s decision be tainted with partiality. In fact, it is imperative on the new justice to recuse himself from deciding the Sigaw petition under Article VIII, Section 4 (2) which states that :

Sec. 4(2) All cases involving the constitutionality of a x x x law x x x and all other cases which under the Rules of Court are required to be heard en banc, including those involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, orders x x x and other regulations shall be decided with the concurrence of a majority of the Members who ACTUALLY TOOK PART IN THE DELIBERATIONS ON THE ISSUES IN THE CASE AND VOTED THEREON. “

Since the new justice did not participate in the deliberation of the Sigaw petition, said justice cannot vote on that issue, as this is prohibited not only by the principles of delicadeza but also by an express provision of the Constitution. It is foolhardy therefore for charter change supporters to pin their hopes on the new appointee.

Reference Person : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares—Spokesperson

Date : October 30, 2006


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