ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 28, 2008) – Residents held a rally on Wednesday in Zamboanga del Norte's Dipolog City protesting a government proposal to change to Constitution.
Dipolog Archbishop Jose Manguiran led the rally. President Gloria Arroyo is to step down in 2010 when her term ends, but her allies in Congress, led by House Speaker Prospero Nograles, are campaigning to amend the Constitution and at one point proposed to turn the lower house into a constituent assembly that would tackle changes in the fundamental laws on the land.
Militant groups and political activists said amending the Constitution would eventually prolong Arroyo's stay in power. Arroyo's allies said the change in the Constitution is needed to introduce reforms in the economy, among others.
Under the presidential form of government, Arroyo is allowed only one six-year term. In the charter change proposal suggested by her political allies who dominate Congress, she can be elected as prime minister should Congress dissolve the Senate and change the system of government to parliamentary and eventually prolong her into power beyond 2010.
Arroyo deposed President Joseph Estrada in a people power revolution in 2001, but corruption scandals in her government and allegations of poll fraud has made her extremely unpopular among Filipinos. (Mindanao Examiner)