SIGAW ng Bayan has reiterated its position against a bicameral parliament, saying huge amounts of government funds are wasted because of gridlocks in the present legislature.
The group, which is set to file a petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on a plebiscite for a shift to a parliamentary system of government, today placed advertisements in dailies calling for support for its “people’s initiative” for charter change.
“So that the Filipino people will not be misled and misinformed, here is what we mean when we say: Abolish the Senate and the House of Representatives,” said the group. “Since the 13th Congress was inaugurated, 51 bills of national application and 708 bills of local application already approved by the House of Representatives have been gathering dust for months in the Senate.”
The group said the Senate’s “inaction” on those measures, “majority of which are urgent, is an absolute waste of people’s money.” It quoted newspaper reports saying the cost of each law enacted by the two chambers of Congress is almost P700 million.
It then gave a list of which legislative measures have not been passed by the Senate, including the General Appropriations Act of 2006, the anti-terrorism bill, and the Omnibus housing act.
There is one “inescapable conclusion,” said the group: “It’s time to shift the country to a parliamentary government and a unicameral parliament.”
According to a decision issued by the Supreme Court in 1997, an enabling law must first be passed by Congress before the people’s initiative can be used as a means to change the charter. The high tribunal in that ruling said the Initiative and Referendum Act is inadequate.
But the Sigaw ng Bayan insists it will file for a plebiscite on charter change, saying it has gathered more than the required number of signatures.
The Comelec early this week issued an order prohibiting its officials and employees from speaking in public about the people’s initiative or providing any legal opinion about the matter.
The poll body has received criticisms for the order, with Rep. Roilo Golez, for instance, saying that the gag rule was “unprecedented, especially with so many questions about (the Comelec’s) integrity and impartiality.”
Golez also said that if the Comelec will act on Sigaw ng Bayan’s petition for a plebiscite, the commission will be “brazenly” defying the 1997 ruling by the Supreme Court. The ruling prohibits the poll body from entertaining such a petition in the absence of an enabling law on people’s initiative.