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PIA Press Release
2006/10/26

Sigaw says high court not a 'trier of facts'

Quezon City (26 October) -- Who are the justices of the Supreme Court to try facts, when their job is to interpret the law?

This will be the anchor of the motion for reconsideration to be filed before the high court by Sigaw ng Bayan, one of two petitioners for a so-called people's initiative.

"I don't know why the Supreme Court dismissed it. It is an interpreter of laws, not a trier of facts. It is sad that it did not even take up the main point of our petition," Sigaw ng Bayan head Raul Lambino said in Filipino during an interview on dzXL radio Thursday.

He said it was "clear" that 6.3 million people signed the draft petition prepared by Sigaw and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).

In its decision, the high tribunal noted that the signatures were "deceptively gathered."

What his group had asked, Lambino said, was for a review of the Cha-cha petition in 1997, which the high court dismissed.

In junking a similar petition in 1997, the Supreme Court said the law at the time was insufficient for a people's initiative to amend the Constitution.

Lambino said a second argument in the motion for reconsideration would be that the justices, who voted 8 to 7, were "hating hati (closely divided)" on whether the Sigaw and ULAP's petition sought an amendment or revision of the Charter.

The petition sought to change the system of government from a presidential bicameral system to a parliamentary unicameral system.

Under the 1987 Constitution, only relatively minor changes, or amendments, can be effected on the Constitution through a people's initiative.

"As far as we are concerned, what we are asking for is an amendment," Lambino said.

Yet, he said the Supreme Court chose to question Sigaw and ULAP's compliance with the Charter that a people's initiative must have signatures of 12 percent of registered voters and three percent of each legislative district.

"It is a sweeping conclusion regarding a question of facts. That is not supposed to be what the Supreme Court is doing," he said. (PIA) [top]

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