It’s up to Congress
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang has once again passed the controversy over Charter change to Congress, saying lawmakers alone can determine the mode and timing by which the Constitution would be amended.
The Palace, through Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio, issued the statement Thursday despite a call by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to abandon Charter change until after the 2010 general elections.
“We leave the manner and timing of effecting Charter change to
Congress, which alone, except in the case of a people’s initiative, is empowered to set off mechanisms for proposing Charter changes either by calling for a constitutional convention or sitting as a constituent assembly,” Claudio said in a text message Thursday.
Nonetheless, Claudio said the Palace “respects” the “admonition” of the CBCP, which issued its stand on Charter change for the first time since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s allies in the House of Representatives moved to convene themselves into a constituent assembly.
“We are heartened that, at least, the Church, as do we, together with the many sectors of society, recognizes the need for constitutional reforms that will redound to the economic, social, and political well-being of our country,” he said.
In a statement issued for the CBCP, its president, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said that the new set of leaders that would be elected in 2010 should decide on Charter change.
Lagdameo said government officials should instead focus on solving the “real problem” of corruption, citing two massive corruption scandals besetting Arroyo’s administration — the alleged bribery and overpricing in the $329 national broadband network agreement between the government and China’s ZTE Corp. and the alleged diversion of P728 million in fertilizer funds to the President’s 2004 campaign chest.
Last Friday, senators, congressmen, clergymen, and former Arroyo Cabinet executives joined thousands of protesters in a march against Charter change in the Makati City financial district, saying such moves are a ploy to extend the President’s stay in power beyond 2010.
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