Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Latest on the Baywalk Hearings

Last May 17th, Enteng and Dinky appeared before Fiscal Richard Lee in the RTC of Manila regarding their infamous Baywalk arrest. Enteng was ably represented by our Black & White Movement Counsel, Edwin Lacierda. Dinky's lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, sent Atty. Percy Flores. Both complainants, Col. Pedrozo and Capt. Sy of the WPD were present as well. We noted Col. Pedrozo's attire, a barong in black and white.

This was the third preliminary hearing into the case. The complainants were supposed to make available the intelligence report cited by Col. Pedrozo as the reason to "nip in the bud" our planned stroll on Baywalk. At the last hearing, we were told intelligence reported plans for a Black & White "lighting (sic) rally" on Baywalk.

Well, at this hearing, we were in for a small surprise. The latest version of the intelligence report states that Enteng, Dinky, a two year old boy named John, his pregnant Mom and about 15 other Black & White supporters were about to launch, get this, a COUP!

Yes, boys and girls, this administration thinks, actually believes, that 22 people planning to stroll along Roxas Boulevard on a Friday night wearing "Patalsikin Na! Now Na!" tees were about to get a coup d'etat going. Everyone in the tightly packed office of Fiscal Lee (including the fiscal himself) could hardly keep in their laughter. Even Col. Pedrozo had difficulty in defending the report. When asked by the fiscal if the police had seen any of us carrying firearms, he had to admit that none of us had any weapons.

In a word, the whole proceeding was ludicrous.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Busy 17 May - The 1st STOP Cha Cha Kapihan

The first STOP Cha Cha Kapihan was held today at the Metro Club in Makati. Put together in only two days, it was very well attended by the media and concerned groups. The Black & White Movement is proud to be part of this campaign, and has lent its support as part of the steering committee and via media coordination.

Today's guests were Senate President Franklin Drilon, former Senator and ConCom Delegate Vicente Paterno, Cong. Nereus Acosta, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, and Makati Business Club Exec. Dir. Guillermo Luz. It was moderated by Narzalina Lim. The topic of today's Kapihan was "Gloria's Cha Cha - the Anatomy of Deception".

This is the press statement as released today:

STOP CHA-CHA Kapihan launched; Paterno warns GMA could to pack Parliament with her cronies

The STOP (Sa Tamang Oras at Paraan) CHA CHA Campaign launched its first public forum on Charter Change this morning with former Senator and Constitutional Commission Delegate Vicente Paterno warning that President Macapagal Arroyo could “pack the proposed Parliament with tried and proven allies who would be ready to do her bidding” in the event Malacanang succeeds in its current designs to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Also present as guests in the first STOP Cha-Cha Kapihan, held at the Metro Club in Makati City, were Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon, Makati Business Club Executive Director Bill Luz and other political and civic leaders opposed to the plan of President Arroyo and House Speaker Jose de Venecia to amend the Constitution and shift to a parliamentary form of government. Narzilina Lim served as the kapihan moderator.

In his brief talk, Paterno warned that the Malacanang Cha-Cha plans included a so-called NO-EL provision which would “assure that the interim Parliament (2007-2010) will be filled with tried and proven allies who would be ready to do President Arroyo’s bidding.”

The other less widely-known sections in Malacanang’s proposed amendments to the Constitution were more disturbing, Paterno said.

“In a normal parliamentary system, the head of Government is the Prime Minister. He is elected to that post by his peers, the members of Parliament. Members of the cabinet are MP’s elected by the people. The President’s duties are ceremonial such as to open Parliament, dissolve it upon advice of the Prime Minister, greet new ambassadors, be the symbol of national unity as Head of State,” Paterno said.

However, Paterno noted, under the proposed amendments being pushed by Malacanang, “the members of President Arroyo’s cabinet will not be elected as MPs but will be appointed by her.” He explained that according to Section Nine of the proposed amendments, “one-third of them shall become MP’s by her appointment. Thirty other persons shall also be appointed MPs by the President.”

“The interim Parliament will elect an interim Prime Minister,” Paterno explained. “But Section 11 says he will not be the head of government but just a cabinet member. Section 12 makes clear, he is a mere cabinet member as the interim prime minister and the cabinet shall function under the direction and supervision of the incumbent president.”

“Section 13 of the proposed amendments to the Constitution states that ‘in the interim Parliament, the incumbent President shall exercise the powers vested in the Head of State and the Head of government under this Constitution,’” Paterno pointed out.

“In my interpellation to oppose these provisions in ConCom, I asked if these were not the same powers that former dictator Ferdinand Marcos gave himself. The spontaneous answer by Raul Lambino, the sponsor of the provision, was a clear yes,” he recalled.

For his part, MBC’s Luz warned the Filipino people against falling for the “false promises” of Malacanang that PGMA’s Charter-Change will bring economic prosperity to the country.

The solution to the country’s present economic problems is not the shift to a new form of government as designed by President Arroyo and her cronies, Luz added.

Leah Navarro, media liaison officer of the STOP CHA-CHA Campaign, said the movement is the result of initiatives from leaders of 2,500 civic organizations across the country opposed to Malacanang’s drive to change the Constitution through the unconstitutional people’s initiative or the self-serving scheme of Congress convening as a Constituent Assembly.

And here is the Senate Public Relations & Information Bureau's statement:

Senate, multi-sectoral groups to launch nationwide info drive vs. people’s initiative

The Senate has joined with 2,500 organizations across the country to launch a massive information blitz against changing the Constitution through the obviously unconstitutional Malacanang-backed people’s initiative.

Lawyer Antonio Gallardo, head of the Senate Coordinating Council against People’s Initiative, said yesterday the move was in response to a Senate resolution signed by 21 senators declaring the people’s initiative illegal.

He said the Senate, key groups and prominent personalities from various sectors have agreed that there should be a more organized information drive against charter change and the people’s initiative, especially in the provinces. Part of the campaign is a series of anti-Cha-cha events like road shows, education campaigns, and forums, all leading up to what they said will be the “Big Event” in June.

Gallardo, chief of staff of the Office of the Senate President, said some senators will fan out in the provinces and join road shows to educate the public that the people’s initiative resorted to by the administration is illegal and immoral.

In key urban centers in the provinces, the anti-Chacha coalition has scheduled a series of activities, including rallies, to drum up support for their cause. Coalition members will also distribute leaflets and primers explaining GMA’s illegal and deceptive political exercise.

“We will bring to the grassroots the issue of Cha-cha and explain to the people how the untimely and hurried revision of our Constitution will affect them,” said Gallardo, adding that the issue of Cha-cha needs extensive study, analysis and widespread discussion among the various sectors of the society.

Gallardo said that based on information reaching the Senate and the anti-Charter Change organizations, the proposed revision to the Constitution has not been intelligently explained to the people during the gathering of their signatures.

Proponents of Charter change, Gallardo said, have deceptively led the people to believe that saying yes to Charter change and affixing their signatures would eventually lead to the ouster of President Arroyo. “We are mobilizing the media relations officers of all senators allied with the anti-people’s initiative campaign to help in disseminating information on the position of their principals,” said the former governor of Camiguin province.

According to Gallardo, among the known groups and personalities that coalesced under the “STOP Chacha” slogan (Sa Tamang Oras at Paraan) include the Black and White Movement, Akbayan, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Finex, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Citizens for Constitutional Convention, Laban sa Masa, United Opposition, Hyatt 10 and senators and opposition congressmen.

As the anti-Chacha snowballs, the Senate will also host a weekly gathering dubbed “Kapihan sa Senado” starting on May 25 to better inform the people about the issues surrounding the proposed constitutional change and the real intent of those advocating it.

Seminars and forums on Chacha issue will also be held in the Senate for its employees and the public.

Gallardo said the Kapihan is designed to thresh out major issues relative to charter change, raise relevant questions and to freely interact with knowledgeable resource speakers invited by the Senate.

He said the 21 senators who are against the Palace-initiated people’s initiative saw the need “for more in-depth studies and intelligent debates” on Charter change, as no concrete proposal on how the country should go about the shift from presidential to unicameral system has ever been presented.

The anti-Chacha coalition has also scheduled a rally, led by the Black & White Movement, dubbed “Tango (Tanggalin si Gloria) Muna bago Mag-ChaCha” in front of the Commission on Elections building in Intramuros from 3 to 6 p.m. on May 19.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Crumbling Resolve?

Wasn't it just a couple of months ago that 21 of 24 Senators united against the convening of a Constitutional Assembly, firm in the belief that Congress is a bicameral body, the House and Senate separate even in voting? This resolution was applauded by the Stop Cha Cha Campaign, an ad in honor of this resolve was published a day before the campaign had an Assembly of Leaders.

Yesterday, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago seems to have had a change of heart. That free trip to Saudi casbahs and souks with Gloria must have helped sway her. Again. There are also rumors that two more Senators may be getting off this bandwagon. Which Senators? Why, we wonder? Is it because they are confident of winning seats in their respective districts should the possibility of change to a parliamentary government? Do they have information confirming the scuttlebutt about the Supreme Court's positive ruling on the People's Initiative? Whose interests do they really have at heart?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Magiting 51 - Will They Stay the Course?

Here they are, folks. The 51 Representatives that signed a House Resolution against a Constitutional Assembly. We continue to have faith in that they will all stay the course, despite rumors that at least 17 of them are being courted to take back their signatures. You see, Joe De Venecia still thinks Gloria hasn't abandoned him, that his road to the Prime Ministership is paved with her promises. So he continues to woo the Congressmen, the ones he believes will cave in to the bait - No-El and no term limits courtesy of Cha Cha. Not to mention the millions that Gloria promises by way of pork and possible under the table goodies.

Tempting, indeed. Do take note, not all the pro-Impeachment Congressmen are pictured above. Where are Fuentebella, Roman and Paras? Edmund Reyes, Ace Barbers, Teddy Locsin? Seneres and Pingoy are nowhere to be found. Why didn't they sign the Resolution? And will they still be on the same side when it comes to counting heads for the upcoming Impeachment?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Statements Against Arroyo's Cha Cha Train

It seems that the tide against Gloria Arroyo's version of Charter Change is beginning to grow. The latest sector to join our STOP CHA CHA campaign is business. Apart from the Makati Business Club (staunchly anti Gloria's Charter Change), the Management Association of the Philippines has come out with its statement on the matter. We reprint both for your study and comments:


The MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (MAP) supports the complete review of the 1987 Constitution. However, being the fundamental law of the land, any proposed changes to it call for a careful, intelligent, deliberate and credible process.

The MAP, an association of business professionals and executives, believes that People’s Initiative as enshrined in the Constitution must be used in the right manner for the right purpose. As its name implies, such move must originate from the grassroots not from above. Such right given to the people assumes that the constituents are given the opportunity to study and understand the issues, enabling them to make informed choices.

There is no reason to short-cut proper procedures to get the Constitution amended by July 15, 2006 as some politicians have targeted. There is nothing sacred about this date that will justify the hurried manner by which the so-called People’s Initiative is being pushed. Such rush just raises questions about the motivations of the people who espouse this method.

Therefore, let us do what is right for the country by reviewing the Constitution completely. In particular, economic reforms are most important in stimulating growth and so with social and other provisions that must be studied and amended to achieve the stated objective of solving the poverty problem. Hence, let us take this precious opportunity to prioritize the interests of the Filipino people, even if self-sacrifice is called for. The People’s Initiative that is being advocated now is not the means to revise the Constitution.

The MAP thus recommends the establishment of conditions precedent before a serious attempt is made to change the Constitution:

1. A careful and objective study of the present Constitution must be made and the provisions that deter growth must be identified for possible amendment. The selection process to name the framers of the Constitution must assure the electorate that competent and patriotic delegates will emerge from the process.

2. Our people must be informed, educated and enlightened so they can intelligently participate in debates and discussions to achieve acceptance of the process and its outcome.

3. The constitutional changes must not redound to the benefit of the incumbents, particularly those who are involved in the preparation and approval of these revisions. This prohibition should also cover the transitory provisions.

4. The process to change the charter must be fully compliant with the provisions of the present Constitution.

5. The credibility and integrity of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) must be restored.

The MAP wishes to insure that charter change will create a Constitution that will be a strong and permanent foundation for peace, justice, development and solidarity of our country. The MAP, together with other professional and business associations, calls its members to action to do their part to achieve this task.

May God bless us and our country.


The Makati Business Club cautions against the haste and haphazard manner in which the government is pushing for Constitutional amendments. Such a fast-track process, without benefit of enlightened public discussion and debate on the merits of a Constitutional amendment, may have negative effects on the economy. Even the Consultative Commission did not arrive at a consensus and some of the provisions in its report, notably the cancellation of the 2007 elections, were met with public criticism and resistance. A significant number of Commissioners voted against the "no election" provision, while a minority issued dissenting reports against other provisions.

Ironically, while the government originally focused on the economic provisions of the Constitution as a means of promoting economic growth, the current proposal does not even touch on the economy and is exclusively focused on the political provisions of shifting from a presidential to parliamentary system, a resetting of elections, and transitory provisions on political matters. Under these conditions, it is difficult to see how the economy and the people will benefit when no economic provisions are even being discussed.

The current attempt to not only amend but revise the Constitution by people’s initiative has no basis under the Constitution. Article XVII, Sec. 2 clearly and unequivocally states: "The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right." Therefore, without an enabling law passed by Congress, the people cannot exercise "this right," meaning the right to amend the Constitution by people’s initiative. In 1997, the Supreme Court in the case of Santiago vs. Comelec held the Initiative and Referendum Act (R.A 6735) invalid. At the same time, the Supreme Court permanently enjoined the Commission on Elections from entertaining any such petition until a sufficient law has been enacted.

The amendment of the Constitution is a very serious matter, a wholesale change can only be undertaken either through a Constituent Assembly or a Constitutional Commission (Sec. 1, Art. XVII). A change from a Presidential to a Parliamentary form of government involves a major ideological shift from a system of checks and balances between three departments of government to the fusion of the executive and legislative powers in one entity. Surely, a paradigmatic shift of this magnitude cannot be considered a minor amendment. This requires more careful study and public discussion to determine what is in the best interest of the nation economically, socially, and politically. The fact that an amendment is now being rushed with only political provisions in mind does not augur well for the country. If such major decisions are carried out with undue haste, we feel that such rushed decisions will have negative repercussions for the country and its economy.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Black Friday Bulletin #9 - Victory Celebration for the Black Friday Protest

Yesterday, the Supreme Court yet again rebuked the GMA administration when it ruled that the warrantless arrest of protesters, the forcible breakup of rallies, and the illegal raid of the Tribune were unconstitutional under cover of PP 1017.

This reaffirms what we have been saying all along - that GMA's continuing and escalating acts of repression are illegal.

You will recall that this movement was birthed on March 1 and was named Black Friday Protest to mourn the death of democracy as symbolized by the declaration of PP 1017 last February 24 - a dark Friday in the history of our nation. With the trashing of EO464, CPR, and now PP 1017 by the Supreme Court, the targets of this protest movement have now been effectively vanquished. Therefore, the Black Friday protest movement has outlived its purpose.

We declare victory!

Next Friday (May 12), we invite everyone who has participated in at least one Black Friday protest activity to join us in our victory celebration (details will be announced in a separate email). We will then formally put an end to the Black Friday Protest Movement.

But the fight goes on.

In the same forum, we will announce Black and White Movement's planned protest actions against GMA's ChaCha, whether through ConAss or through an illegitimate "people's initiative". We will also present our plans to promote the call for snap elections. We will not stop until truth and justice once again prevail upon this nation.

Patalsikin na! Now na!

God bless,