Wednesday, February 01, 2006

LGU chiefs gear up for people’s initiative

SOME 10,000 local government leaders, from governors to barangay councilors, will lead the launching of the “people’s initiative” to amend the 1987 Constitution and shift to a parliamentary form of government at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila on Feb. 10.

The highlight of the event will be the signing of the petition, which will be distributed all over the country in a bid to gather at least 12 percent of registered voters, at least 3 percent of each congressional district.

Jose Abueva, president of the Consultative Commission that drafted recommended amendments to the Constitution, will explain their recommendations while Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Constantino Jaraullo will clarify the procedure of the people’s initiative.

“People’s initiative is the most efficient, less expensive and shortest method to change our Constitution and embrace a parliamentary form of government,” Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn told Standard Today. Hagedorn is the chairman of the League of the City Mayors.

Hagedorn said the whole-day affair will be attended by leaders of the different local government leagues like that of the governors, vice governors, provincial board members, city mayors, town mayors, city councilors, town councilors, barangay chairmen and barangay councilors, including the barangay youth leaders.

“This is the biggest gathering of local government officials, which is truly a representation of the masses, the backbone of people’s initiative,” said Hagedorn, adding that they hope to gather the required number and percentages of signatures by the end of February.

“After which, we will submit the people’s initiative petition to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for verification if it is sufficient in form and the required number of signatures are achieved,” he explained.

Hagedorn said once the Comelec has verified the petition, they expect some sectors to question it before the Supreme Court (SC) and ask for a temporary restraining order (TRO).

“Once at the SC, we have a battery of good lawyers who will defend our position. We are confident that the High Court will take our side this time because we have a political situation wherein the threat of power grab is imminent. We believe that this political exercise will finally solve the stalemate,” he said.

Once the SC has ruled in favor of the petition, Hagedorn said, the SC will order Comelec to hold a plebiscite “not earlier than 60 days, but not more than 90 days” from the day of decision.

The plebiscite will simply ask the people to vote for or against Charter Change and, in the event “yes” votes win, a new constitution takes effect and the bicameral Congress dissolved at once.

Then, within 40 days, the unicameral parliament is convened by Vice President Noli de Castro to elect the prime minister, who will be the chief executive of the government. Jaime Pilapil, Manila Standard

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