Philippine President's Public Accountability sign now

DECLARATION AND STATEMENT OF POSITION

Specifically Addressing PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY

Of the President of the Republic of the Philippines



By Filipino Immigrants and Overseas Workers





July 3, 2005





WHEREAS, the undersigned, comprised of Filipino immigrants and overseas workers that in the first three months of this year, have remitted a total of $2.3 billion, or almost 17 percent above the level of remittances for the same period last year to financially support the Philippines, and



WHEREAS, we care about our homeland, are deeply concerned about its problems, and are looking for solutions because we are the product of our country's sweat and tears -- having left our ancestral home to create better opportunities for ourselves, our families, and those we left behind, and



WHEREAS, public trust in government is low, and current situations in the Philippines with regard to perceived scandals in government, growing civil unrest and persistent threat of coup have become critical issues that concern all, because they seriously threaten the stability, tarnish the public image, and compromise the foreign relations of our mother country:

1. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's popularity is at rock bottom, largely because of the current tape controversy, the allegations of cheating in the last election, and the alleged involvement of her family members in the jueteng scandal.

2. The President has publicly acknowledged that she had conversations with several people, including a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official after the vote canvass in the regions was over during the 2004 elections, but before the final official tally was completed, and



WHEREAS, there is now a global awareness among overseas Filipinos of the critical and emergent need to move forward as a nation and constructively address government corruption, instead of allowing national attention and energies to be taken up by division and altercations, and



WHEREAS, Section 4, Article III of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, in the Bill of Rights, states that

"No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances." and



WHEREAS, this Declaration and Statement of Position is a demonstration of the values we share, and our desire for constructive and thoughtful discussion aimed at resolving crucial issues, strengthening our country, rejecting violence, fear and hate, and helping Filipinos regain trust and confidence in their government,



NOW THEREFORE we, the undersigned concerned Filipino-Americans and Filipinos residing overseas, of our own volition, and with no intent other than to preserve the sanctity of our government and to improve the deteriorating political, economic and social conditions of our mother country, do hereby declare that we have united as a single voice to address our concerns regarding the crisis and problems that beset our government, and to demand integrity, accountability, credibility and transparency from all our elected public officials. WE STRONGLY ADVOCATE, AND DECLARE THAT:



1) As an elected official that holds the highest position in government, the President of the Republic of the Philippines has the legal, ethical, moral and social obligation and responsibility to formally, publicly, and personally respond to the concerns of the people that she has vowed to serve, and to address the public perception of impropriety that continues to escalate and erode public trust in government.

In view of her recent admission of what she called a lapse of judgment in the controversy over the tapes, and the possible anomaly or fraud that may have been committed in the hotly contested presidential election in May 2004, the President must take full responsibility for her actions, by VOLUNTARILY STEPPING DOWN FROM OFFICE or BY SUBJECTING HERSELF TO FORMAL AND FULL INVESTIGATION, until the issue is resolved in an expeditious and transparent manner, through legal proceedings, as mandated and specifically addressed by Section 1, ARTICLE XI of in the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, on "Accountability of Public Officers":



"Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives."



2) We echo the words of Gaudencio B. Rosales, D.D., Archbishop of Manila, that Forgiveness does not eliminate the need for justice, nor should it block the search for truth. Genuine forgiveness demands more than an apology, and those who seek forgiveness should be ready to be called to accountability. The pursuit of truth regarding the grave charges against leaders and officials should be conducted within the provisions of our Constitution and should respect the laws of the land. Any proposition that disregards our constitutional and legal systems weakens our institutions and paves the way for a graver instability that can cause more profound suffering to our people.



3) Trust in government can only be restored if our leaders give immediate attention to authentic reform where political systems prone to corruption are not condoned, and swift decisive corrective action are feted against committed acts of graft and corruption, including election fraud. Any further delay in resolving this issue will adversely affect the countrys economy and prolong the uncertainty of many foreign and local investments, projects, and plans for good government. We therefore STRONGLY URGE THAT:



Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., and Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr have a moral and social responsibility to urgently respond to the current crisis, and to order a full-dress investigation by inviting Hon. Chief Justice Cecilia Nunez Palma to head an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIVE COMMISSION, made up of non-political leaders from various sectors (business, civic and religious) in collaboration with the Independent Office of the Ombudsman, to expeditiously examine all records, tapes and conversations pertaining to the alleged attempt or intent of the President to alter the result of election in her favor, and submit to Congress and to the People of the Republic of the Philippines an official proclamation of the existence of guilt or lack thereof, together with recommendation for action, without delay.



The Senate President, House Speaker and Supreme Court must establish the true and honest result of the last Presidential election by ordering an official and expeditious RECOUNT of all ballots for Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates at government expense, to be done expeditiously and overseen by an INDEPENDENT SECTOR outside of COMELEC and NAMFREL, made up of nationally credible individuals and civic leaders with no known political agenda.



In the event that the President is proven guilty of election fraud, or the Independent Recount reveals that the election results indeed have been tampered and did not support the legitimacy of her current elected position in office, a resolution to remove the President from office must be affirmed by the House within ten session days from receipt thereof, with a vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House, and expeditiously decided by the Senate within sixty session days, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding but not voting.



In the event that the President is forced to step down from office by Constitutional means, either on the basis of formally established guilt or the official result of the recount, the vacated position must be immediately occupied by the Vice-President duly chosen by the people of the Republic of the Philippines, as manifested by the recounted votes.



In the event that the duly elected Vice President succeeds the President in office, we strongly recommend the formation of a "Council of Leaders" -- including members of the academia, business leaders, and civic leaders headed by Hon. Justice Cecilia Nunez Palma (a justice with proven integrity, who also headed the Constitutional Convention that drafted the Philippine Constitution of 1987) --- to ensure better governance, provide for strong checks and balances, improve the system of government through Constitutional amendments, and hold a Constitutional Convention, ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite.



Concerned leaders (political, social, civic and business) should establish and develop a strong sense of partnership and be prime examples of what they are advocating for. The government administration and executive body should have an ongoing and active dialogue with community leaders (who are not self-serving and not government-appointed), both from the Philippines and from abroad. With government support, an International Advocacy Core Group or International Citizen Action Group, made up of Filipino leaders that represent local as well as overseas Filipino communities, can be formed that is independent of, but collaboratively and closely working with respective government agencies, to help develop check and balance policies for oversight, as well as suggest, discuss, and provide workable and sustainable solutions on matters that concern public interest and help restore trust in government.



As community leaders, we also have the moral responsibility to follow our Constitution and abide by the rules of law, for the sake of our country's stability. We need to resolve crisis by recommending positive solutions and pushing for unity instead of divisiveness.

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Elisabeth GrossBy:
People and OrganizationsIn:
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Philippine Senate

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