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.