Timeline: The Cha-Cha Train

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Posted at Jul 02 2010 11:38 AM | Updated as of Jul 03 2010 03:35 AM

A chronology of events relating to efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution under the Arroyo administration.

2005

March 1 – The House committee on constitutional amendments, chaired by Cagayan de Oro's Constantino Jaraula, issues Committee Report 413, the consolidation of all resolutions calling for Charter change.

Dec. 13 – Seven members of the Constitutional Commission (CONCOM) submit to the President a minority report, enumerating the reasons they don't support the majority's proposals.

Some of the dissenting seven will later reveal last-minute insertions to the CONCOM's draft Constitution, which can be found in the Jaraula report as well. These include the cancellation of the 2007 elections that will extend the terms of office of the current elected officials from national down to the local level.

Dec. 16 – The CONCOM submits to the President its proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

Dec. 24 – The Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) announces that it lobbied for no-elections proposal to be included in the CONCOM draft, for them to support the move.

2006

Jan. 7 – Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone announces that ULAP will launch the people's initiative campaign in February, have a plebiscite in May or June, and have the interim parliament in July (similar to Speaker Jose de Venecia's timetable). Groups with links to the President and the Speaker have started consultations around the country.

Some officials of local government leagues say that the draft petition for people's initiative that they will circulate to their constituents is being prepared by Rey Roquero, a former secretary general of the League of Municipalities, who works for presidential political affairs adviser Gabriel Claudio and is closely identified with De Venecia.

Congressmen who belong to KAMPI, the President's original party now headed by Antipolo Rep. Ronaldo Puno, joined the campaign.

Feb. 16 – Puno is named DILG secretary. Undersecretary Ed Soliman, who specializes in barangay-level organizing, is plucked out of the DILG and named head of the Office of External Affairs under the Office of the President.

Feb. 23 – DILG Undersecretary Wencelito Andanar issues a memorandum ordering DILG officials, governors, mayors, and barangay chairpersons to conduct barangay assemblies on March 25 and on October 21 to discuss "issues affecting the country."

March 10 – DILG's Andanar issues another memorandum ordering DILG and local officials to conduct barangay assemblies.

March 24 – COMELEC's director in Region 8, Adolfo Ibañez, writes the COMELEC's law division asking for a legal opinion on whether they can verify signatures for the people's iniatiative.

March 25 – Barangay assemblies are held in several provinces. In most areas, those who attended were asked to sign blank sheets without explaining to them what the signatures were for.

Sigaw ng Bayan, which claims to be the umbrella organization of some 100 groups working for Charter change, holds a press conference to introduce itself as the group behind the signature gathering campaign. It's led by CONCOM member Raul Lambino, a lawyer from Pangasinan, De Venecia's home province.

It announces that it gathered some 2 million signatures from the barangay assemblies a day before.

March 26 – Sigaw claims to have gathered an additional 2 million signatures in just one day.

COMELEC law division chief Alioden Dalaig issues a memorandum saying that COMELEC registrars can verify signatures.

April 12 – Ibon Research Foundation releases a nationwide survey showing that most Filipinos are not in favor of the amendment. The survey was conducted from March 15 to March 25 of the same year.

August 26 – Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel says that the Arroyo administration is pushing for Charter change because it wants to ensure its congressional allies a win in next year's elections. He said the immediate aim of Charter change is to install a parliamentary system with a unicameral Interim Parliament.

December 12 – Senate President Manny Villar files Senate Resolution 599, a resolution which said that the House resolution seeking the amendment of the constitution is "unconstitutional."

2007

October 15 – President Arroyo announces that she will create a panel that would draft the "roadmap to federalism by 2012" and revise the constitution. The panel will include secretaries of the DILG, DOJ, PMS, and NEDA, LGUs, Congress allies, and pro-federalism opposition leaders.

October 17 – House Speaker Jose de Venecia rejects an immediate action by the House of Representatives to revive efforts to change the system of government. De Venecia earlier proposed a national moratorium for 2007 and said that he is open to discussions on Charter change by first quarter of 2008.

Rissa Hontiveros, Anakbayan party list representative, comments that the sudden revival of Charter change was a way to divert the current scandals lashing the administration. Previously, the Palace had been involved in the overpriced ZTE-NBN broadband deal.

December 10 – The House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments revs up proposals to amend the 1987 constitution.

2008

January 8 – House speaker Jose de Venecia denies he started the reviving talks on Charter change in the lower house.

August 12 – Press Secretary Jesus Dureza announces President Arroyo's support for a Senate resolution calling a constituent assembly. The assembly will revise the constitution and adopt federalism.

August 28 – The house committee on constitutional amendments defers voting on whether or not Charter change is necessary. They vote 11-5 in favor of conducting nationwide public hearings to check the public pulse.

November 17 – Senator Manny Villar resigns from his post as Senate President and Juan Ponce Enrile is installed in the position. After ascending to the position, Enrile, a staunch ally of the administration, declares that “the public needs to understand why we need or do not need Cha-cha.”

November 23 – Anthony Golez Jr., Deputy Presidential Spokesman, says in a radio interview that the move for constitutional amendment starts and ends in Congress. He clarified that the Palace does not orchestrate such moves.

November 24 – Leaders of the United Opposition (UNO) and various sectoral groups convene in Makati to organize actions against Charter change.

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Archbishop and President Angel Lagdameo insists that amending the constitution should be through Constitutional Convention "and after the 2010 elections."

December 10 - Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte files a draft resolution, which seeks a change in the constitution through a constituent assembly. Villafuerte is the President of the Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (KAMPI), a political party organized by President Arroyo in 1997. Villafuerte shares in his privilege speech that it can be passed even without the go-signal from the Senate as long as 197 lawmakers sign the resolution, three-fourths of the combined membership of the Congress.

The resolution fails to gather 197 signatures to bypass Cha-Cha in the Senate. Villafuerte transfers the resolution to Nograles, who has filed House Resolution 737, a resolution that seeks to amend foreign ownership limitations stipulated in the 1987 Constitution. Speaker De Venecia Jr. says the Nograles measure is a decoy for Charter change through the constituent assembly resolution filed by Villafuerte.

2009

March 2 - The lower house includes Nograles' resolution 737 in the list of resolutions to be tackled in the sessions for the day.

March 20 - Pangasinan Rep. de Venecia tells the media that Presidential son and Pampanga representative Juan Miguel Arroyo and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez sought his help in pushing for Charter change. Rep. Arroyo denies the allegations and calls on administration allies to stop pursuing Charter change as the country prepares for the 2010 national elections.

March 26 - A survey conducted by polling firm Pulse Asia shows that 42% of Filipinos oppose Charter change, 33% are in favor of changing the constitution while 25% remains undecided.

April 3 - Speaker Nograles sets June 6 as the deadline for the passage of Charter change. He said: "“If by June 6 wala pang nangyayari dyan, I will concede that it will be too late to pursue it.”

April 21 - Nograles clarifies that the HOR will not bypass the Senate as debates on Charter change continue in the lower house. He claims that the resolution will be sent to the upper house once it has been approved. Senators remain skeptical of the resolution despite denial statements from the Palace.

April 22 - Nograles files HR 1109, a resolution "calling upon members of Congress to convene for the purpose of considering proposals to amend or revise the Constitution, upon a vote of three-fourths of all the members of Congress."

August 17 - House Deputy Majority Leader Crispin Remulla states that HR 1109 will end up being trashed as the lower house cannot get a quorum. The Nacionalista Party, with Sen. Manuel Villar as standard-bearer, says they will strongly oppose Charter change.

2010

July 1 - A day after being sworn into office, former President Arroyo, now representative of Pampanga, files House Resolution No. 8, which calls for a constitutional convention in amending the 1987 Constitution. abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak