ROXAS CITY– The Capiz March Against Arroyo’s
Charter Change or C-MARCH welcomed the early
issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)
by Capiz Regional Trial Court(RTC) Branch 17
Presiding Judge Edward Contreras Tuesday afternoon.
“This is a landmark case. This is the first TRO
issued in the country against the bogus people’s
initiative led by Department of Interior and
Local Government(DILG)-Malacañang,” said C-March secretariat Chris Heredia.
Contreras issued a 20-day temporary restraining
order on Tuesday, directing the poll body to
cease and desist immediately from taking
cognizance of verification of signatures of the
supposed registered voters presented by any people’s organizations.
The order stemmed from the petition for
prohibition filed by former Roxas City Councilor
Rey Antonio Bingo Altavas, a former staunch
critics of the Roxases. Altavas now works as
staff of Sen. Mar Roxas II in the Senate.
The victory is not just for Capizeños but for all
patriotic and nationalist Filipinos as well, she stressed.
The C-MARCH is the first broad alliance of
anti-Charter change in the province of Capiz,
which was launched Friday last week. The group is
composed of various organizations from different
political, socio-civic and church sectors opposing the people’s initiative.
Heredia challenged the other provinces to take
initiatives in order to achieve significant
victory in its legal battle against the peoples’ initiative.
“There is no question for the need to change the
present constitution but this is not the right
time to change it. Personally, I believe that
this will legitimize a regime whose legitimacy is being questioned,” she said.
Atty. Nelly Abao-Lee, Capiz provincial election
supervisor, said she was surprised by the sudden issuance of the TRO.
She said the issuance of the TRO by a local court
was, so far, the first in the country against a
government agency that is tasked by the
Constitution to administer an election.
Lee said copy of the TRO has been forwarded to
the Comelec National Office for immediate comment and action.
In her legal opinion, she stressed, the Comelec
cannot be restrained by the court because they
were merely doing their administrative functions.
She stressed that verifying signatures upon the
request of any individual persons or groups is
one of their primary tasks. She added the Comelec
never wasted the people’s money in doing so.
Except for the first district of Capiz, she said,
the Comelec had issued a certification that
22,372 signatures gathered for the people’s
initiative in the second district had been
verified to be true. The number represented 12.94
percent of the 172,945 registered voters.
Lee said her office cannot issue any
certification on the part of the first district
because the signatures submitted for verification
coming from Roxas City and Pontevedra towns have
yet to be verified when the TRO was issued.
So far, only 6,105 of the 14,371 signatures
gathered were verified to be true. The first
district, composed of six towns and Roxas City, has 203,208 registered voters.
By FELIPE CELINO AND ERWIN BONIFACIO