Belmonte’s man, new group bring Cha-cha drive to Cebu

By Gerry Lirio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 26 2014 08:15 PM | Updated as of Jun 28 2014 04:33 AM

WHILE everyone is pre-occupied with the pork barrel scam, a new political group led by former Budget Secretary Salvador Enriquez is quietly promoting amendments to the 1987 Constitution in the countryside.
“We have to change the system of government,” Enriquez told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview. “We have to change the system in government.”
Enriquez, a senior consultant of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, an avid proponent of Charter Change in the House of Representatives, and the Kamalayang Pinoy Movement (KPM), a multi-sectoral group launched in May 2013, ”will test the political waters” at the group’s first national convention at St. Theresa's College in Cebu City on Saturday, June 28.
This is not the first time that Enriquez is selling the idea of amending the charter. In 1992, then budget secretary, he pushed for amending presidential term limits to allow President Fidel Ramos to seek another term.
Enriquez said neither Belmonte nor Ramos was aware of his campaign. He said he’s only a “researcher” in KMP, but he is its most prominent member and speaker in Saturday’s convention where members would also elect their leaders for the first time.
Hosted by Cebu Mayor Michael Rama, the convention was organized by lawyer Revsee Escobido, former chief of staff of Sen. JV Ejercito; Manila Councilor Joel Par, former chief of staff of Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno; and Barangay Chairman Harvey Giray of Manila’s sixth district.
They expect thousands of members to attend the convention. An official said the group has some 80,000 members all over the country. He showed a map of the Philippines showing the number of members in each region. The map shows the group has 13,200 members in Cebu and 13,307 members in Luzon, among others.


Enriquez said he will call for an “end to the political insanity” in the country at the convention, referring to the controversy involving three senators accused of plundering billions of pork barrel funds.
“Our lawmakers kept on talking about ways how to change the constitution,” he said. “We want to initiate discussions on what to change with the constitution. We want the people to think and decide.”
On top of his mind, he said, is to replace the presidential system of government. “The parliamentary system is good,” he said. “There needs to be some amendments to accommodate economic development. What are these? Let the people think and decide. I will serve only as a catalyst.”
According to its mission statement, KPM was created “after a large number of people realized that there are others sharing the same value and desire for a drastic upheaval in the political” structure of the country.
The convention would also tackle transforming the group into a formidable political party that will support a presidential candidate in the 2016 presidential elections.
“It is the aim of KPM to serve as a major vehicle for ordinary people’s participation in public politics, to facilitate civic engagement and collective action, and to lead a sustained effort to wage war against the political insanity in the country by discouraging other Filipinos from voting insincere, treacherous, and deceptive candidates not only in the 2016 national elections but further beyond,” the group says.

So, who will be their candidate in 2016?
“We have to tackle first what ails this country and what are the corresponding solutions. After doing so, we will look for a candidate who can carry out the solutions,” said a KPM official who requested not to be identified.
“In the past, people would look for a candidate, then find ways how this candidate would fit in the scheme of national problems. We are doing the reverse,” the official said.
“Why? We have been electing officials over and over again. And still, we are getting the same problems. We can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. That’s political insanity.”
Enriquez said he and the group will hold more conventions in other areas.