Wednesday, June 07, 2006


The Counsels for the Defense of Liberties (CODAL) today warned local government officials against spending taxpayers’ money to push the illegal and immoral people’s initiative to revise the 1987 Constitution.

Lawyer Neri Colmenares, co-convenor of CODAL, issued the warning after local executives of the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) led by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza committed to join the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) and the Malacanang-backed Sigaw ng Bayan in their information blitz in Metro Manila on the proposed shift to a unicameral parliamentary system.

Atienza’s group belonging to Metro Manila Mayors Leagues (MMML) is scheduled to launch in the metropolis the information campaign on Charter Change next week.

“We strongly warn local executives not to misuse taxpayers’ money for an exercise which the Supreme Court itself has declared illegal many years ago,” Colmenares said.

In the case of Defensor-Santiago vs Comelec, the Supreme Court ruled on March 19, 1997 that Republic Act 6735, which provides for a system of initiative and referendum, is “incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned…” Chief Justice Hilario Davide in his decision in the PIRMA motion for reconsideration has categorically declared RA 6735 ‘unconstitutional’.

Art. XVII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution requires a law for the exercise of a people’s initiative by declaring that “Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through a people’s initiative… The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.” Since the Supreme Court has struck down the initiatives law, the current people’s initiative is unconstitutional for lack of an enabling law.

The High Court in its ruling also enjoined the Commission on Elections not to entertain any petition for a people’s initiative in the absence of a law.

Colmenares also said ULAP and MMML are only wasting their time and efforts in pushing for a political exercise which from the very start they know is illegal.

“People’s initiative is only for amendments of specific provisions in the Constitution and not for changing the form of government or any other revision as pushed by the present administration,” he explained.

The CODAL official also accused proponents of pro-charter change of pushing for charter change for the interest of a few, and not for the Filipino people.

Under a unicameral system the people will be deprived of their right to vote directly for the President. “They can no longer choose their head of government like the President. Only members of Parliament will choose the Prime Minister. The proposed Constitution which, among others, abolishes the Senate in lieu of a unicameral system, eliminates the Commission on Appointment, and judicial checks on the martial law powers of the President or the Prime Minister, is designed for unaccountability by eliminating checks and balances contained in the current Constitution.

Under the proposed parliamentary system, he explained, the Executive and the Legislative will be merged. This means that they will be the ones who will make and implement laws.

Pro-chacha followers have been rushing charter change to preempt the filing of the prepared impeachment complaint on June 27 and to ensure that Pres. Gloria Arroyo will no longer be addressing the Senate during her State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.

Colmenares said that “ The pro-chacha advocates must now accept defeat and give up. The President herself has admitted that contrary to her wishes, she will be addressing two houses of Congress when she delivers her State of the Nation Address on July 24. Furthermore, the impeachment complaint will be filed on June 27 as planned.”

Under Art. VII, Sec. 1 (2) of Sigaw ng Bayan’s proposed Constitution, the required votes to impeach the President is increased to unattainable two-thirds votes from the current one-third votes of the members of the House of Representatives, to wit:

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.

Since the new Constitution will not be in place when Congress opens, the impeachment complaint may still be immediately transmitted to the Senate upon the endorsement of only 1/3 of the members of the House of Representatives thereby defeating the scheme to insulate the President from the ‘creeping impeachment’ rule.

Reference Person : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares
Date : June 7, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


CODAL is dismayed at the government’s neglect of the educational system manifested by artificially solving the lack of classrooms through Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s mathematical hocus-pocus. Even without the DepED’s “incorrect” data, the lack of classrooms is apparent by the overcrowding of 60-80 students in one room, and the holding of classes in playgrounds and under the shade of trees. Doubling the shifts of students will not eliminate this dearth in classrooms, considering that other than the actual lack of classrooms, we also have a lack of teachers to teach in these shifts.

Charter Change Eliminates Government Responsibility in Education

The proposed charter change will further exacerbate the current situation as it eliminates government responsibility in education and virtually opens up universities and colleges to foreign ownership thereby distorting the entire educational system to further cater to the requirements of globalization.

The proposed Constitution of the Constitutional Commission (CONCOM) deletes the following provisions in Article II of the 1987 Constitution:

(i) Sec. 13 “ The State recognizes the vital role of the Youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being.”

(ii) Sec. 17. The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.

(iii) Sec. 9. The State shall promote a just and dynamic social order that will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living, and an improved quality of life for all.

These deletions will take away the constitutional provisions that may be used in forcing government to ensure its support for education and the welfare of the youth. It also eliminates a provision that will ensure continued government responsibility in providing for adequate social services to the people.

The Concom proposal also opened up colleges and universities to foreign ownership by inserting the qualifying phrase “at the pre-school, elementary and high school levels” in Article XVI, Sec 3 (2):

(2) Educational institutions at the pre-school, elementary and high school levels, other than those already established by religious groups and mission boards, shall be owned solely by citizens of the Philippines, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens. Parliament may, however, require increased Filipino equity participation in all educational institutions.

If transnational corporations will own our universities and colleges, profit becomes a primary concern while education and learning takes secondary importance. Not only will education become unaffordable, the curriculum will surely be geared to the needs of foreign markets rather than those of the Filipino people.

The proposal of Rep. Constantino Jaraulla, Speaker Jose de Venecia, Reps. Luis Villafuerte, Rep. Prospero Nograles and Miguel Zubiri in the House of Representatives is worse as it directly lifts citizenship requirements in education, inter alia, by proposing amendments to Art. XII, Sec. 12 on Economy and Patrimony”


The educational system and the Filipino youth have been greatly neglected and marginalized under the current Constitution. The proposed constitutional revision will ensure that not only the worsening of the educational crisis, but that government and Pres. Arroyo are not even responsible for such a crisis.

CODAL reiterates its call on the youth and the academe to persist in battling the proposed charter change and thwart attempts to further marginalize the youth and education.

Reference Person : Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares--Spokesperson
Date : 6 June May 2006

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.