Here is how it could happen, according to JDV:
First, Comelec will verify the signatures, as indeed, they already have, in Pangasinan, according to him. Whether Comelec then gives due course to the initiative or not, the case will surely reach the Supreme Court. If the initiative is rejected by Comelec, the Petitioners will appeal while the Opposition will surely question the legality of the People’s Initiative if Comelec approves it for campaign and plebiscite. JDV seems supernally confident that Supreme Court will have a chance to “reconsider” the Decision it rendered in 1997 -- Santiago vs. Comelec – That Decision was penned by Hilario G. Davide, Jr. whose Conclusion reads --
This petition must then be granted, and the COMELEC should be permanently enjoined from entertaining or taking cognizance of any petition for initiative on amendments on the Constitution until a sufficient law shall have been validly enacted to provide for the implementation of the system.That second paragraph of then Chief Justice Davide’s ponencia may now be invoked by the likes of Raul Lambino, Sergio Apostol and Jose de Venecia. JDV was breathlessly painting a picture of a massive, spontaneous, nationwide movement of people “clamoring” for Charter Change, “clamoring” for a shift to the Parliamentary System of Government, “clamoring” to sign up to Charter Change..."clamoring" for him to be Prime Minister? Chief Operating Officer JDV? (well some of these were the thought bubbles...)
We feel, however, that the system of initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution should no longer be kept in the cold; it should be given flesh and blood, energy and strength. Congress should not tarry any longer in complying with the constitutional mandate to provide for the implementation of the right of the people under that system.
JDV said that Santiago v. Comelec could be history by May and by June a campaign and plebiscite around a new form of government could be held. JDV says that by July a new Parliament couldbe in place, containing one-third of the present Cabinet, who would automatically be considered Members of Parliament under Transitory Provisions. The Speaker was waxing sentimental as he described the scenario that would then occur in 2007. An Interim Parliament would be elected, along with an Interim Prime Minister who would serve as “Chief Operating Officer” of the Republic under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who would continue as “Chief Executive Officer” in a “French –style” of parliamentary-presidential system. Naturally JDV sees himself in that new role of C.O.O.
Looks like JDV has already moved into his Parliament-cum-Palace in the Sky, because he also told Ricky Carandang at noon time that once we have a new Parliamentary system in place by this coming July (We are barely 3 months to Utopia, dontcha know?) there will be a much easier way of tackling the rest of the changes required in the Constitution, such as electoral reform, economic and political reform, and all the rest! Then again... this is the Philippines where some very strange things have happened and people don't really seem to care.
But what is so crucial about that June July time frame during which the Speaker of the House of Representatives predicts we shall all be in the throes of a campaign and plebiscite over a new Unicameral Parliamentary system.
Oh yeah, Round Two of the Impeachment Battle.
Ah...but here is some ammo for JDV's side...
Pulse Asia, Inc. reports on a Question that it asked of 1200 adult voters during its March, 2006 National Survey with the raw data breakdown in the following Table:
Table 3 Whether It Is Right to Amend the Present Constitution Now or Not (March 2005, Oct. 2005 and March 2006)
Question #176: Sa inyong palagay, tama ba na baguhin ang Konstitution sa ngayon? (In your opinion, is it right to change the Constitution now?)
But, Pulse Asia gave its respondents exactly four possible answers to choose from in the survey: (The three percentage numbers that follow below are the nationwide responses from March 2005, October 2005 and March 2006.)
Choice of Answers:
(1) YES the Constitution should be amended now. (29% ... 36% ... 43%)
(2) NO, the Constitution should not be amended now but it may be amended at some time in the future.(27% ... 35% ... 24%)
(3) NO, the Constitution should not be amended now nor any other time. (28% ... 20% ... 24%)
(4) Don't know or can't say.(16% ... 8% ... 9%)
There is something fishy about this question because of the allowed answers listed by the pollster. Notice that there are two NO categories here. But consider a slightly different but closely related question:
What percentage of Filipinos are in favor of amending the Constitution?
According to Table 3 it would appear as if a strong majority of Filipinos -- two-thirds or 67A% of them in fact -- are in favor of Charter Change now or in the future, while a shrinking minority of 24% say No, not ever. Yet, the data also shows that since March 2005, the fraction of the adult voters who are for changing the Charter NOW has been on an increasing trend from 29% to 43%, a sizeable change.
Now look at how Pulse Asia reported on and interpreted this same data:
Filipinos are essentially divided on whether it is right to amend the Constitution nowIt now appears that the best way to read the March 2006 Ulat ng Bayan national survey on Charter Change from Pulse Asia, Inc. is to ignore the heavily editorialized "Media Release" wrapper and go directly to the Tables which contain the original survey questions in Tagalog and the breakdown of respondent's answers.
About the same number of Filipinos (48%) does not consider it right to amend the 1987 Constitution at present as consider it right to amend it now (43%). Nearly one in ten (9%) is undecided regarding the timing of charter change. Of the 48% who deem charter change inappropriate at present, half (24%) oppose it now but are open to it in the future, while the other half (24%) do not see the need for charter change now or at any other time in the future (See Table 2)
Even as a big plurality of Filipino adults think it is not right to amend the constitution now (48%), this sentiment is now expressed by fewer Filipinos relative to the previous year. In March and October 2005, a small majority of Filipinos (55%) did not think it right to have charter change at the time. Between October 2005 and March 2006, the percentage of those opposing charter change now drops significantly in Class ABC (-18 percentage points) and in Metro Manila (-19 percentage points) (See Table 3)
The percentage of Filipinos in support of having charter change immediately has been increasing since March 2005 when only 29% of Filipinos were for the immediate amendment of the Constitution. In October 2005, this figure rose to 36% and it now stands at 43%. Between October 2005 and March 2006, agreement with having charter change now goes up in the poorest socio-economic Class E (+12 percentage points) and in Metro Manila (+15 percentage points). Fewer Filipinos are now for having charter change sometime in the future instead of immediately (24% in March 2006 versus 35% in October 2005), while indecision regarding the timing of charter change has dropped (from 16% to 9% between March 2005 and March 2006) (See Table 3)
On the other hand, the percentage absolutely opposed to charter change (i.e., not now nor at any other time in the future) remains nearly constant between October 2005 and March 2006 across all of the country’s geographic areas and socio-economic classes (See Table 3)