Monday, October 02, 2006


CODAL is glad that the Supreme Court ordered the Comelec during the hearing on Oral Arguments to allow lawyers of oppositors to the peoples initiative, the opportunity to look into the documents submitted by SIGAW including the signature sheets and the certification by different COMELEC officials. The Supreme Court ordered the lawyers to submit their Memorandum of Arguments on or before October 11 together with any evidence on fraud or failure to achieve the 3% requirement in a particular district. Among the questioned districts pertain to Davao, South Cotabato, Makati, Roxas City and other districts in the Visayas.

On September 29 Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares together with Atty. Aquilino Pimentel III sent a letter to Comelec lawyer Dir. Alioden Dalaig, informing him of the dates when lawyers will go over the Sigaw documents. The date agreed with Comelec is October 4, 5, 6 and possibly October 7 or 9 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The inspection will focus on the certifications issued by Comelec officers regarding their assertion that the 3% requirement was achieved in their respective municipalities, cities or provinces. Comelec officials who issued certifications without genuinely verifying the signatures submitted will be reported to the Supreme Court. The lawyers will also attempt to look into the signatures sheets although it cannot focus on the same due to lack of time. The Supreme Court is not a trier of facts and could not therefore tackle the voluminous documents showing massive fraud.

CODAL argues that in the absence of an enabling law and rules and the failure of Comelec to notify the oppositors, it was impossible for oppositors to have opposed the verification process in the districts. The 5 day period to inspect these documents is not sufficient to cover all districts.

Dismissing the Sigaw Petition a certainty

CODAL is certain that the Supreme Court will dismiss the petition filed by Atty.Raul Lambino asking the Court to declare that the Comelec gravely “abused its discretion’ when it dismissed the Sigaw petition.

Firstly, Comelec could not have abused its ‘discretion’ when it merely implemented the Supreme Court injunction in Santiago vs. Comelec. The Sigaw petition will definitely be dismissed since following a Supreme Court order can never be interpreted as abuse.

Secondly, the petition is for a ‘revision’ which the Constitution does not allow the exercise of under a peoples initiative. Sol. Gen. Eduardo Nachura admitted during the Oral Arguments that a peoples initiative cannot undertake a revision of the Constitution.

Thirdly, there are other fatal defects in the Petition notably:

a. issues of fraud or the failure to get the signatures of 3% of registered voters in all legislative districts. The case of South Cotabato and General Santos raised in the petition filed by former congresswoman Lualhati Antonino, was mentioned during the oral arguments as one of the areas which must be looked into the opposition lawyers.

b. Support given by local officials in the initiative including the funding of Sigaw. CODAL finds impossible and untenable the statement by Sigaw during the hearing that their total budget is a mere P3 M when the 600,000 signature sheets alone would have cause P 2 M. SIGAW mustalso explain the funding for their almost daily newspaper and TV ads which could now amount to more than P200 M.

c. The admission by Sigaw during the hearing that they only reproduced 100,000 copies of the petition shows that the petition could not have been attached to many of the 600,000 signature sheets signed by voters. CODAL believes that only this admission is fatal to the petition since signature by voters in signatures shets without the attached petition is void.

d. The admission by Sigaw, during the interpellation of Justice Quisumbing, that the signatories did not know that the proposed charter change allows for no election in 2007 is also fatal since this constitutes misrepresentation by the petitioners.

CODAL is confident that the petition for a peoples initiative is doomed to die a natural death due to its fatal flaws even if the Court will reverse Santiago and declare the adequacy of RA 6735, the initiatives law found inadequate in Santiago. The additional arguments of fraud and misrepresentation are only extra nails in the coffin of Sigaw.

Lawyers will make an initial viewing of the Sigaw documents before Dir. Dalaig on October 4.

Reference Person : Atty. Neri Colmenares

Date : October 2, 2006


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