CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, Ifugao Gov. Teddy Baguilat Jr., Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo and San Isidro Mayor Sonia Lorenzo on Friday urged President Macapagal-Arroyo not to pursue a plan to amend the 1987 Constitution and instead focus on measures to ease poverty in the country.
The five officials, together with three youth leaders, made the appeal as founding members of the Kaya Natin!, a movement espousing genuine change and ethical leadership in government.
Youth leaders Cristyl Senajon and Karla Pastores, and Harvey Key, director for youth leadership and social entrepreneurship of the Ateno de Manila-School of Government, signed the open letter.
They expressed a strong opposition to charter change before the 2010 national elections because doing this now will "only serve to promote the self-interests of a few of our political leaders who are bent at staying in power and extending their present terms."
"We believe that the 2010 national elections should continue as scheduled because postponing it will deprive the Filipino people of its mandated right to choose the right leaders that it can trust, and will further weaken our democratic institutions," they added.
Kaya Natin! leaders also believe it will "not matter" whether the form of government was parliamentary or federalist because the country continues to have leaders who " only promote their self-interests and continue to corrupt the Filipino people."
Than pursue amendments to the constitution, national leaders and legislators, they said, need to "open their eyes to the plight of the millions of Filipino families who are living in poverty."
"We call on them to focus on developing and implementing policies and programs that would improve the quality of life of every Filipino and promote genuine and lasting development for our country," their open letter read.
Sound economic policies that will help Filipino families eat three meals a day or help farmers benefit from genuine agrarian reform are what legislators must concentrate on, they said.
Ms Arroyo and Cabinet leaders, on the other hand, are asked to "focus their efforts on curbing the rampant graft and corruption present in our government, improving the quality of basic education, generating jobs especially for the poor and providing access to quality healthcare for every Filipino."
Kaya Natin! leaders also asked the Commission on Elections to ensure full automation for the 2010 polls.
They urged their colleagues in local governments to "listen to the true voices of our constituents and join us in opposing any attempts to amend the constitution before the 2010 National Elections."
They urged those oppose to charter change to send their views to email@example.com.