A regime of rule-breakers
Gloria yesterday announced she is fully supporting the campaign to amend the Constitution via people’s initiative. As if people did not know that the signature-gathering campaign was hatched in the Palace.
Truly we are no longer amazed by Gloria’s utter contempt for the law in her drive to stay in power. If she could steal the 2004 election, then no legal or moral restraints would stop her from changing the charter for her own purpose. The initial attempt to change the charter was through a constituent assembly. This was blocked by the near-unanimous sentiment in the Senate that now is not the time for changes given the leadership crisis.
Speaker Jose de Venecia is still flogging the dead horse of a constituent assembly, to the extent of claiming that the House could do it by its lonesome self. His campaign to gather 195 signatures at the House, however, appears to have stalled at 150.
So here comes people’s initiative, the fallback position, no matter that the Supreme Court ruled nine years ago that the law on people’s initiative does not apply to proposed amendments to the Constitution.
The Santiago vs Comelec ruling stemmed from the Pirma campaign of President Fidel Ramos to lift the ban on reelection. It called for the deletion of the single line "The President shall not be eligible for any reelection" (Section 4 of Article VII). The Supreme Court said people’s initiative could not be invoked in the absence of an enabling law. Pirma was stopped cold in its tracks.
The proposed shift to parliamentary system would overhaul Article V1 (Legislative Department) with its 32 sections and Article VII (Executive Department) with its 23 sections. What the Supreme Court said was not allowed with regard to that one sentence among a total of three in Section 4 of Article VII, Arroyo thinks she could push to change a total of 54 sections in Articles VI and VII.
And by be the way, isn’t the Comelec already defying the Supreme Court injunction against entertaining any people’s initiative in the absence of an enabling law by verifying the signatures in the petition circulated during last week’s barangay assembly?
But in a regime of rule-breakers, starting with Arroyo, we should not be surprised anymore.