A senior member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has scored President Gloria Macapagal Aroyo's administration for using the Consultative Commission's (Con-Com's) proposed Charter draft,...

By Guil Franco (A Correspondent)

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Published: Sun 25 Dec 2005, 12:43 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:51 PM

which scraps the 2007 elections to pave the way for the shift to parliamentary-federal system of government, to remain in power.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz on Friday said the proposal to extend the term of congressmen and senators as well as local officials is nothing but a "push for a 'No-El' (no elections) scenario," which is "too cozy, too sweet, too convenient for those in power."

"No election as mandated by the (Philippines') Constitution in these times means prolonging the joy of corrupt public officials and thereby assuring the continuous suffering of the masses," the prelate pointed out.

He added the No-El scenario is only causing the credibility and the integrity of the Arroyo government more "disdain and disrespect."

"Malacanang is getting itself deeper and deeper into the quagmire of unethical conduct. This is the big irony of the current administration (because) instead of gaining the trust of the people, it is making them even more distrustful," Cruz noted.

He stressed the unanswered public scandal involving President Arroyo and some members of the First Family is even causing more discontent, which is evident in the growing number of Filipinos living below the poverty line.

"There is more poverty. There are heavier taxes, bigger debts. More instability. Its response to all these does not only baffle the mind but also tempts the soul," Cruz added.

The prelate slammed the Con-Com for using "pleasant and edifying" words to hide the true intentions of the government, which is to remain in power.

"The terms used to describe the No-El design are anything but pleasant and edifying. Shame! Bribery! Ploy! Immoral, numb, foul. And all these ultimately hit not the Con-Com but the one who put it togetner," he said.

Archbishop Cruz, however, admitted it is no longer surprising that those who are in power wanted to remain in their post because they want to cover up the truth especially now that there are questions on the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration.

"These (questions) are addiction, greed and deceit — especially when the most powerful remains suspected of cheating and lying for emerging as such," he said.

Cruz stressed he foresees a bleak future for the country with the No-El scenario and the current government still in power until 2010.

"It is happy Christmas time. But the present coming from the administration is sad news," he said.

For his part, Senate President Franklin Drilon also yesterday assured the proposed term extension of elected officials would not be approved by the Philippine Senate.

He said this amid reports that his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., is doing the rounds, soliciting support from local government officials on the suspension of 2007 elections.

"I am confident that majority of senators will oppose the No-El in 2007," the Senate chief told a Press conference.

While Drilon is yet to personally talk to each of his colleagues to determine their sentiments on Charter change (Cha-cha), specifically on the recommendations of the Con-Com, it is public knowledge that most of the senators are against allowing incumbent officials to take part in amending provisions of the prevailing 1987 Constitution.

If at all, the senators favour a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) as a mode in having the Charter amended, not through a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) that is being pushed by the Palace and the House. Unless the Senate approves of it, only then could Cha-cha take place.

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