Arroyo to intensify bid for stay in power in 2009–Drilon


By Carla Gomez
Visayas Bureau
First Posted 21:54:00 09/28/2008

BACOLOD CITY — Former Senate President Franklin Drilon warned the public on Sunday of intensified efforts by the Arroyo administration to amend the Constitution and extend the term of President Macapagal-Arroyo in the last 12 months before the 2010 polls.

Drilon said he was challenging Ms Arroyo to say that she was not in favor of any term extension, lifting of term limits and amending the Constitution in the remaining months of her administration.

Drilon, who is also chair of the Liberal Party, also challenged Vice President Noli de Castro, Senate President Manuel Villar and Speaker Prospero Nograles to state that they would oppose any amendment to the Constitution before 2010. “That is the only way by which the people can be comfortable,” he said at a press conference here.

Any Charter change (Cha-cha) should be done after 2010 when the country’s leadership would have a fresh mandate, he said.

Drilon said amending the Constitution before 2010 could only be perceived as an attempt to extend Ms Arroyo’s stay in power.

The people, he said, “will not accept that.”

A House committee on constitutional amendments headed by La Union Rep. Victor Francisco Ortega has started hearing proposed amendments to the Constitution. Drilon said he was informed that the instructions of the Speaker was for congressmen to consult with their constituencies before Nov. 30.

The proposed amendments included a resolution filed by Nograles that purportedly proposed only amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution, he said.

But Drilon said it would be easy to suspect that this was just a ruse and that the ultimate objective was to amend the Constitution to extend the President’s term.

“I would predict that the issue of whether or not both chambers will vote separately or jointly (on the proposed amendments) when they convene themselves as a constituent assembly will be brought to the Supreme Court by January of 2009,” he said.

Drilon said that with six vacancies in the Supreme Court in 2009, “the temptation to pack the Supreme Court with partisan justices will very tempting because of this issue of amendments to the Constitution.”

“It is up to the people to be vigilant against any sinister move to amend the Constitution next year,” he said.

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