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PIA Press Release

Local officials respect unfavorable ruling on people's initiative

By Bong Pedalino

SAN JUAN, Southern Leyte (27 October) -- Southern Leyte Governor Rosette Y. Lerias did not hide her disappointment over the decision of the Supreme Court junking the people’s initiative issue by a slim vote of 8-7, striking down a measure which would have laid down the way towards changing the country’s Constitution.

“I am disappointed because one of the basis really why we believed, and I still believe, what we did was really within the bounds of the law was the decision of Chief Justice Panganiban himself in the first case.

He filed a dissenting opinion, and at that time he already said that there was an enabling law,” Gov. Lerias told local and regional media practitioners who sought her comment, on the sidelines of an activity held here October 26 in which the Rotary Club of San Juanico (Tacloban) gave another batch of financial assistance for the Guinsaugon scholars sponsored by Dharma Drum Mountain Social Welfare and Charity Foundation of Taiwan.

Still, she said she “respected the ruling of the highest Court of the land, just expressing my opinion” on the current developments.

In Maasin City, Rep. Roger Mercado, in an interview over DYDM by news anchor Zaldy Olita, also said he respected the decision of the Supreme Court, adding that it is now time to get ready for the 2007 elections, because the Constituent Assembly mode would take much time to process.

Both Lerias and Mercado are strong supporters of Charter Change.

The High Court’s ruling on October 25 has proven wrong the prediction of Mayor Pedro Fustanes of Bontoc town.

Fustanes, who is the President of the Southern Leyte Mayor’s League, had predicted last Friday, October 20, that it would be a 75-25 output in favor of people’s initiative, although he qualified then that he based his outlook on his reading of the present composition of the Supreme Court.

PIA has yet to contact Mayor Fustanes, who was still in Manila attending a General Assembly of Mayors’ League, for his reaction on the Supreme Court’s resolution of the people’s initiative issue.

While Cong. Mercado is training his sights for the political exercise next year following the adverse ruling, Gov. Lerias said she does not intend to run for any position, for now, when asked about her political plans. She is now on her third and final term as Governor.

On the supposed pressures exerted on the Supreme Court several days before it issued its ruling, Gov. Lerias said she now realized the pressures did not come from the administration but by public opinion, the media.

“When the Chief Justice said before the decision came out that there were pressures, my understanding was he probably felt that the pressure came from the administration. From the way it looks now, he must have been pressured by public opinion and by the media,” said Gov. Lerias.

She took exception to the claim that it was a fraudulent manner in getting signatures, saying such an accusation was a sweeping generalization.

She said the process in getting signatures was very diligent and that it was verified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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