DOJ Secretary Slams Snap Elections Call

By Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA- Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez on Monday dismissed the claim of some solons that the only solution to the country’s current leadership and economic problems is a change in leadership through a snap election.

In an interview, Gonzalez branded as “illogical” the move of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reform to endorse a bill calling for a snap presidential election considering that the next presidential election is just two years away.

Gonzalez stressed that a change in leadership does not translate to a lower prices of fuel and a stable political situation.

“I don’t think that will cure the problem of fuel because the president of this country has no control over fuel costs. We are at the end of the rope of the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). So the only way we can lower the cost of fuel will be to subsidize. That will be sacrificing other essential services. I don’t think that a snap election, assuming that it would result in a change of leadership, would solve the problem. It would be a great mistake to spend billions in a snap election when in two years time you will have another election,” Gonzalez said in response to the decision of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reform to endorse a bill calling for a snap presidential election.

“If we can be assured that if we will have a snap election and we will have a new president, OPEC will lower the prices of fuel in the world market, that will be worth looking into. But what will be our assurance that if we will have a new president, OPEC will lower its costs? Not even President George Bush was able to convince the OPEC to lower the cost of oil. I don’t think that is a solution at all,” Gonzalez further said.

Gonzalez further noted that a snap election is only possible if there is a law removing the line of succession which is defined under the Constitution.

If removal of the President is the only objective, the DOJ chief said it should be done through impeachment proceedings or by forcing her to resign.

Earlier, the House committee on electoral reform chaired by Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., voted to report out the bill so the entire House of Representatives could debate in plenary session on the need to hold a presidential election before President Arroyo’s term ends on June 30, 2010.

The President’s allies have described Joson’s proposal as unconstitutional, saying Congress cannot call for a snap presidential election because the presidency is not vacant.

However, even if such a law were to be crafted by Congress, Gonzalez said President Arroyo will most likely veto it as she had earlier vowed to finish her term until 2010.

“But this snap election is almost second to impossible. Because will the President sign that bill? I don’t think the President will sign. The President said she will not resign. It will have a very slim chance of getting a law. There are many avenues for having a change in leadership. The moment you call for a snap election, there will be campaigning and bureaucracy will be on a standstill,” the DOJ chief added.

Gonzalez also said the Filipino people are “mature enough” to realize that a mere change of presidents will not solve the country’s problems. He also advised Congress to just wait for the elections in 2010.

(www.asianjournal.com)

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