Monday, October 23, 2006

"Tick Tock!" said the Clock -- Chacha Is Out of Time

At any moment now, the Supreme Court will issue a second historic Decision on the question of People's initiative on the Constitution, in particular, the Palace-backed Sigaw ng Bayan proposal to transform the government into a unicameral parliament, which would be elected in the 2007 elections instead of a bicameral Senate and House under an unamended 1987 charter.

But I believe that even a ruling favorable to the Petitioners would not do them any good, nor the people who oppose them any harm, because there simply is no time to mount a National Plebiscite to ratify the proposal before a certain deadline.

As Sec. Ed Ermita admitted to reporters today, January 15, 2007 is a kind of drop dead date for Charter Change because that is the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy for the May, 2007 elections. In effect, the new Constitution will have to have been ratified in a national plebiscite by January 15, 2007, otherwise the 2007 midterm elections will be held as scheduled and chacha will die on the vine.

Now take a look at this provision of the 1987 Constitution:
ART. XVII Sec. 4(b) Any amendment under Section 2 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the certification by the Commission on Elections of the sufficiency of the petition.
January 15 is already less than ninety days from today. This means Comelec must certify the sufficiency of a people's initiative for plebiscite, assuming a favorable ruling from the Court, no later than November 15, 2007, or thereabouts, which is sixty days before January 15, 2007. In fact, such certification must really be final and executory before Nov. 15, 2007, because the earliest the plebiscite could then be held would be January 15, leaving no time to count and finalize it before the start of the regular midterm election season.

Even if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of Sigaw ng Bayan later today, October 23, 2006, there would have to be a 15 day period for Motions to Reconsider to be filed. That brings us to November 7. A final and executory ruling could conceivably emerge quickly, say a record of one week, which would surely be seen as hasty but never mind. It's already November 15 and Comelec still has to go about the certification, which has to be open to further Court and administrative challenge.

Moreover, it is inconceivable that the Supreme Court, even if it approves the petition, would have no requirements to impose on the Comelec to comply with in issuing its certification of sufficiency, for example to rectify obvious flaws in the signature collection campaign and various points of compliance with a putatively discovered enabling law.

Ironically, the Supreme Court could not possibly rule that the People's Initiative is so perfect that, in effect, the Comelec's statement "on the face it appears to be sufficient" constitutes a certification of sufficiency. Since that happened in the middle of August, the Plebiscite would have to be held no later than November 15 -- a patent absurdity.

CONCLUSION: Time has run out on the People's Initiative if Ed Ermita is right that January 15 is the drop dead date for a plebiscite to ratify the proposed unicameral Parliament. Given that the Supreme Court has not ruled at this late date, the November 15 deadline for a certification of sufficiency simply cannot be met in time to set up a plebiscite before the 2007 election becomes unstoppable. I think it already is ... and so the Palace's greatest fear, the emergence of a powerful, solidly Oppositionist Senate could make the potential for impeachment and conviction in 2007 a real possibility!

For reference, I reprint the 1987 provisions...
Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions

Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:

(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or

(2) A constitutional convention.

Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 2.

Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.

The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.

Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 3.

The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.

Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 4.

Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution under Section 1 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the approval of such amendment or revision.

Any amendment under Section 2 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the certification by the Commission on Elections of the sufficiency of the petition.
There is no more time for CON-ASS either, because the same time constraints apply.

8 comments:

HILLBLOGGER said...

Hi Dean,

You reckon the 2007 elections will push through?

HILLBLOGGER said...

The senator I talked to two days ago is not sure that the elections won't push through. The senator believes that Gloria could still "persuade" SC to buy charter change.

Rizalist said...

Sure looks like it. It's too late for charter change for 2007. The neat thing about these chacha thingies is they have an EXPIRATION DATE. A plebiscite MUST be held no earlier than 60 days and not later than 90 days after certification of a valide p.i. or a valid con-ass resolution. But it seems they must not interfere with regularly scheduled elections. We are learning that that is one limitation on WHEN charter changes can be accomplished.

john marzan said...

and so the Palace's greatest fear, the emergence of a powerful, solidly Oppositionist Senate

not really. As long as the control the House, walang impeachment complaint ang papasa.

from the tribune.

Palace drops Senate, banks on House in ’07 elections

By Sherwin C. Olaes

10/23/2006

Apparently sensing it has been losing support in the Senate, Malacañang has trained its sights on the House of Representatives, admitting empowering the Arroyo administration’s local front to ensure landslide victory either in a regular or parliamentary elections next year....

He added they have no concrete preparations for the 2007 senatorial slate of the administration as their objective is really to empower the local fronts and congressional districts especially when the parliamentary election takes place.


yung pork barrel na nakasiksik sa election budget ng kaalyado ni Arroyo will be a huge factor in the admin efforts to maintain status quo in the House, aside from garciing some local elections here and there.

(yung mga bumoto para patayin ang impeachment have a huge money advantage over the opposition and their challengers.)

HILLBLOGGER said...

John's observation makes sense. How can the impeachment reach fruition if the Gloria can still control the lower house?

Will be the same scenario: impeachment junked; don't forget they probably will have two Lozanos next time around.

In the event that happens, Gloria will fight tooth and nail more than ever to push for charter change by 2007 and onward; that's when the real power fight could really begin, eg., fight to have 2010 elections scrapped in favor of a parliament so Gloria can stay ad vitam eternam in Malacanang.

Gloria's regime next few years will not be about governing but about staying in power.

She is a true disciple of Machiavelli, ain't she?

Rizalist said...

if gma had been impeached either in 2005 or 2006, she would almost certainly have been acquitted by the Senate. So what was lost these past two attempts. Nothing!

But something that happens in the Senate can affect what the House will be inclined to do.

If the numbers for a conviction appear in the Senate, even in potentio, the chances increase that the Lower House will impeach.

Politicians in the Congress won't impeach if they think they will only get clobbered after the President is acquited. But there could be 80 risk takers if there are 15 or 16 senators that look ready to convict.

john marzan said...

if gma had been impeached either in 2005 or 2006, she would almost certainly have been acquitted by the Senate. So what was lost these past two attempts. Nothing!

But something that happens in the Senate can affect what the House will be inclined to do.


yes, importanteng mapanalo ang senado para mas sure ang conviction, and barring any unforseen catastrophes (o kung ma-abolish ang senado, lol), the anti-GMA candidates i think will win big in the senate.

winning the senate will also serve as a "refernedum" on arroyo (kasi national ito, unlike the local House races) and a face-slapping message to her administration.

but the more difficult task for the opposition is winning enough seats in the House to para ma-impeach si arroyo. local races, local issues.

Politicians in the Congress won't impeach if they think they will only get clobbered after the President is acquited. But there could be 80 risk takers if there are 15 or 16 senators that look ready to convict.

not true.

exhibit A: Erap's impeachment trial.

Rizalist said...

Fair enough John. But don't forget, in Erap's case there was also the loud and forceful opposition by the Catholic Church, the Media and Civil Society who all ganged up on him. By the time it came to impeaching Erap which was an historic first anyway, there was much more than the conviction calculus for the likes of the ones who ended up in the Senate as a result of going after Erap! They were going to the Senate one way or the other, just like Chiz Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano next year.