CHARTER CHANGE NOT MY PROBLEM - GMA

Manila, May 5, 2003 -- "Not my problem."

This seemed to be President Gloria Arroyo's reaction as she shrugged off the current furor surrounding moves by legislators to amend the 1987 Constitution Monday.

"We are not involved in this debate. The Executive Branch has its hands full on vital issues needing immediate attention," Pres. Arroyo said in a statement issued by the Palace.

Earlier, Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Pres. Arroyo was staying neutral on the issue.

"We leave the process to Congress," Bunye said, adding, "Let them sort it out among themselves. The stand of the President remains neutral."

A number of legislators want the Charter amendment done by converting the Senate and House into a constituent assembly, rather than the more costly method of electing delegates to a constitutional convention that will amend the basic law and later holding a plebiscite to ratify amendments to the Charter.

However, according to reports, Senate President and administration ally Franklin Drilon has been threatened with ouster from the Senate helm because of his refusal to work a compromise with the House of Representatives on the Charter change.

Bunye refused to comment on these reports.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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