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Philippines president to press constitution change despite high court ruling

[JURIST] Philippines President Gloria Arroyo [official website] will move forward with plans for constitutional change despite last month's ruling by the nation's Supreme Court [JURIST report] that her planned referendum on modifying the country's charter to abolish the upper house of Congress cannot proceed, according to presidential press secretary Ignacio Bunye. In a column to be published Monday, Bunye confirms [press release] that constitutional change will remain at the top of Arroyo's agenda. The now-abortive referendum would have amended the 1987 constitution [text] to abolish the Philippines Senate in favor of a unicameral parliamentary assembly. Among the plan's critics was Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr., who on Sunday resigned [Manila Standard report] amid rumors that he would be forced out of office for his opposition to the charter amendments. INQ7 has local coverage.

Arroyo first proposed the constitutional amendments in June 2005, when she called for a national convention [JURIST report] 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 have been senators whose positions would be abolished if the changes are approved.

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