Council of State Meets Today; Charter Change, 2007 Elections on the Agenda Ramos, Top Officials Expected to Attend
President Arroyo convenes today the Council of State where she hopes to iron out differing views among Congress and other political leaders on the move to rewrite the 1987 Constitution, including the proposed scrapping of the May 2007 elections.
The President will preside over the meeting of the Council of State at around 10 a.m. today, expectedly to be attended by about 75 participants, led by former President Fidel Ramos, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, some Congress leaders and Cabinet officials.
Also expected to attend the meeting are Vice President Noli de Castro, House Majority Leaders Rep. Prospero Nograles, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Senate President Pro Tempore Juan Flavier and the presidents of local government executivesa associations.
Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Ralph Recto, Richard Gordon, and Edgardo Angara, president of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, the countryas biggest opposition party today, have likewise confirmed their attendance in the meeting.
However, former President Corazon Aquino, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and the minority leaders of Congress a" Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Rep. Francis Escudero a" have already declined the invitation to attend the meeting.
According to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Mrs. Arroyo is expected to discuss with political leaders the issue of amending the Constitution, including the controversial proposal to scrap the holding of the May 2007 national and local elections.
"They may discuss the issue about Charter change because they would like to know the sentiments of various sectors in order to get from them what the public feels," he said in an earlier radio interview.
Other issues to be discussed may cover the implementation of the 12-percent Expanded Value-Added Tax next month, the continued increase in the worldas oil prices and its impact to the prices of basic commodities and services.
"All of these (issues) may be tackled in a freewheeling discussion of the selected personalities in the Council of State," Ermita added.
The convening of the Council of State, as proposed by Ramos, intends to take up the current initiatives on Charter change, the governmentas economic and fiscal reform programs and the implementation of the much-needed electoral reforms.
Presidential Political Adviser Secretary Gabriel Claudio, also chief of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, said it is possible that the council would take up the recent attempts at destabilizing the Arroyo administration.
The Council of State, first created in 1987 by former President Corazon Aquino, was envisioned to provide the incumbent president "with reliable information and competent advice on pressing issues and problems of national interest."
Mrs. Arroyo revived it two years ago to serve as a "consultative body (that is) bound by a common respect for the Constitution and the rule of law" where proposals and consensus for meaningful reforms in the government can be forged among national leaders.
Council of State just a decorative body, says senator
By MARIO B. CASAYURAN
Feisty Sen. Joker Arroyo said yesterday todayas scheduled Council of State meeting convened by President Arroyo that would not be attended by Senate leaders is no big deal since it is nothing more than a decorative body that has no real power or clout.
"Why all the fuzz over who will attend and who will not attend the Council of State as it were a big production? Attendance is desired but not required, so it is no big deal," Arroyo, the Executive Secretary of then President Corazon Aquino in the late 80s, said.
While Senate President Franklin M. Drilon and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. said they would not attend the meeting, Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan said he would attend it and would listen to what MalacaA[+ or -]ang has to say. …