Palace backtracks on Charter change talk
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang backtracked from its call for a dialogue with lawmakers to reach a “consensus” on efforts to amend the Constitution, amid mounting criticism from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s foes and allies.
Instead, Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said lawmakers would hold dialogues with groups and individuals opposed to Charter change, including El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde.
“Sorry if I was unclear yesterday. The dialogues should really be between Cha-cha proponents in the House and anti-Cha-cha groups and individuals like Brother Mike,” Claudio said in a text message. Cha-cha is short for Charter change.
Claudio said House Speaker Prospero Nograles proposed the dialogues to “explain their advocacies and plans” for constitutional amendments.
In a statement Wednesday, Claudio said: “Without abandoning the administration’s advocacy for constitutional reforms in order to secure the country’s economic and political stability, we will seek a dialogue with leaders of the House to help forge a consensus on Charter change that is acceptable to the people.”
At a news conference at the Palace on Thursday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said that what Claudio meant was holding dialogues between lawmakers and Charter change critics.
Claudio said Fajardo “quoted me right.”
Velarde, Arroyo’s spiritual adviser, had threatened to mobilize at least one million of his four million followers if the President fails to rein in efforts by her allies to rewrite the 1987 Constitution.
Another Arroyo ally, former president Fidel Ramos, said Charter change should come after Arroyo’s term ends in 2010, not before.
A huge anti-Charter change rally is scheduled on December 12 in the financial district of Makati.
View article as posted on INQUIRER.net