SAYS PARTY-LIST SOLON Arroyo could go the way of Estrada

By Desiree Caluza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:21:00 12/07/2008

BAGUIO CITY—Gabriela party-list Rep. Liza Maza said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would suffer the fate of ousted President Joseph Estrada if she insisted on Charter change (Cha-cha).

“GMA (Ms Arroyo) and her allies should not test themselves on Charter change because they might find themselves [facing an] enraged people. They might [follow the path] of their immediate predecessors, like former President Joseph Estrada,” said Maza, who spoke at a women’s rights forum here on Friday.

Estrada was forced out of office by huge street protests in January 2001 after his impeachment trial for perjury and plunder was torpedoed by his allies in the Senate.

Maza’s words seemed a counterpoint to administration-allied Sorsogon Rep. Jose Solis warning Friday that Speaker Prospero Nograles would suffer the fate of ousted Speaker Jose de Venecia if he junked a constituent assembly (Con-ass) in favor of a constitutional convention (Con-con) to effect Charter change.

Nograles, who took over the speakership after De Venecia fell out of grace with the President early this year, said Thursday he would back any mode of Charter change, including the popular constitutional convention which would take longer and be more unwieldy.

Talk of colliding fates, ousters and revolts continued even as Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas withdrew his resolution that sought the extension of the terms of elected officials up to 2011. His resolution, which would have effectively canceled the 2010 elections, triggered many of the negative reactions to Cha-cha in the administration-dominated House of Representatives.

Mandanas said his resolution was misinterpreted—he did not intend it to benefit the President and other national officials.

Maza was unconvinced. “In the midst of crisis, GMA is really serious about pushing Charter change.” She said that the opposition saw Cha-cha as a way to extend the term of Ms Arroyo and her allies and to change the charter’s economic provisions.

She said the alliance of militant groups, religious organizations and civil society was strong and would protest any moves to amend the Constitution. A national protest is scheduled on Dec. 12.

The opposition bloc in Congress, Maza said, was also doubling its efforts to gather support for a resolution against Charter change to counter the administration’s move.

She said the junking of the fourth impeachment complaint against Ms Arroyo in as many years had proven the President’s political tenacity.

But her leadership, Maza said, “is a continuing disaster.”

“This is a lesson to all women who want women as leaders. It is not enough that we have a woman president like GMA. Women should not support her just because she’s a woman; what we need is a leader who has good intentions, who is just and clean,” Maza said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have begun gathering 197 signatures in support of a draft resolution to convene the Senate and the House into a constituent assembly to amend the Constitution. With reports from TJ Burgonio and Leila Salaverria

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