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Philippines high court nixes referendum on scrapping US-style congress

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] on Wednesday ruled [opinion text] that a planned referendum on modifying the country's constitution to abolish the upper house of congress cannot proceed. The referendum would have amended the 1987 constitution [text] to abolish the Philippines Senate [official website] in favor of a unicameral parliamentary assembly. Seven of fifteen judges dissented [voting summary] from the court's ruling, which held that the change was a "revision" to the constitution and not an "amendment and therefore cannot be decided by referendum. The court also said that the interest group which organized the petition drives should have made sure that signatories understood what they were signing, and that the interest groups were merely following the agenda of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo [official website].

Arroyo first proposed such a constitutional amendment in June 2005, when she said she would call a national convention [JURIST report] in 2006 to change the constitution and form of government of the country from an American-style system with a president and bicameral legislature to a federal, parliamentary system. Many of the plan's most vocal critics are senators, whose positions would be abolished if the changes are approved. Reuters has more. The Manila Times has local coverage.

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