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PIA Press Release

Palace calls truce on Cabinet row over people’s initiative

Quezon City (30 October) -- SEEKING to contain a rift in the Cabinet over the people's initiative as a means to amend the Constitution, senior Malacañang officials have agreed to stop talking about the issue, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s chief aide said.

Arroyo Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said he talked to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz late Sunday and agreed to concentrate on Typhoon “Paeng” (international codename: Cimaron) that was battering northern Luzon.

Cruz, who is at the center of the alleged squabble because of his opposition to the Palace-backed people's initiative, should be allowed to focus on the present disaster since he also headed the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), said Defensor.

Defensor, who is in Baguio City, said he would attend the regional disaster coordinating council meeting there.

"We agreed that there should be no more talking about the issue, anyway, it's moot and academic since the Supreme Court has decided on it," he said in a telephone interview, referring to a high tribunal ruling last week that dismissed a petition by pro-Charter change advocates to allow a people’s initiative to institute constitutional reforms.

Defensor said they would discuss the issue when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrives from her China trip this week.

Defensor also dismissed talk that Cruz was on his way out because of his statements against the people's initiative, which the defense chief had described as "legally doomed" as he pressed Cabinet members who pushed for it to admit their mistake.

Cruz and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, author of the Supreme Court ruling junking the people’s initiative, were together in the law firm dubbed "The Firm" because of its close ties with the President and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

In a separate radio interview, Presidential Political Adviser Gabriel Claudio said Cruz had made known his position on the people's initiative early on.

But Claudio said there was nothing wrong about this since Cruz did not openly campaign against the initiative and did not do anything that would cause its defeat in the high court.

"This kind of opinion is well-respected within the Cabinet," Claudio added. (PIA) [top]

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