Proponents of the people’s initiative to change the 1987 Constitution by allowing both Houses of Congress to jointly vote on the proposed amendments have gathered the required number of signatures needed to file their petition, House ways and means panel chairperson and Albay lawmaker Joey Salceda said Wednesday.
“Sobra na, lampas na sa requirement. Saka lahat ng distrito, naka 3% na eh,” Salceda told Super Radyo dzBB when asked if the people’s initiative has already met the signature thresholds of 12% of the total number of registered voters in the preceding election, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least 3% of the registered voters.
(The number of signatures has exceeded the requirement. All of the districts have at least 3% of voters signing the petition.)
Salceda made the statement a day after the 24-member Senate released a manifesto condemning the ongoing people’s initiative, asserting that the move would “make it easier” to change the Charter by “eliminating the Senate from the equation.”
However, Salceda said that everybody, including the senators, should now heed the call of the people and wait for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to verify the signatures instead of casting doubts on the motives of the proponents of people’s initiative for Cha-cha.
“Why don’t we listen to the people? Ang baba naman ng tingin nila sa pangkalahatan na basta na lang ‘yan pipirma kahit hindi nila binabasa. (They think so low of the people that they will just sign it even without reading it.) [It reached the] point of no return. Let the COMELEC validate the signatures. That’s in the Constitution,” Salceda said.
Salceda added, “Let them (people) speak. Bakit kayo takot sa tao? Eh ang gagaling naman ninyo. Hindi ba 24 kayo, nagkaisa kayo, eh ‘di makukumbinsi niyo ‘yung tao magboto ng ‘no’ (against the people’s initiative).”
(Let them speak. Why are you afraid of the people? Are you really that great? All 24 of you are united against this, so go on and convince them to vote ‘no’ against the people’s initiative.)
The signature campaign, led by a certain Anthony Abad, asks voters if they are in favor of amending Article 17 Section 1 of the Constitution by allowing all members of Congress to jointly vote on proposed constitutional amendments.
Gathering signatures is just the first step in the long process of amending the Constitution via a people’s initiative. A petition would still have to be filed by the proponents, and the signatures would have to be verified by Comelec, among other steps of review.
As of last Saturday, the Comelec reported that at least 884 cities and municipalities have received several pages of signatures for people’s initiative.
Comelec Chairperson George Garcia earlier stressed that the Commission has yet to receive enough signatures from towns and cities for a plebiscite to happen in a six-month timeline, as supposedly targeted by its proponents.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. told GMA Integrated News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday that the 1987 Constitution was not crafted in the context of a global community, and that revising the economic provisions should be prioritized over the political changes.
The President also said that the Comelec should be allowed to do its job, including validating the submitted signatures. — VDV, GMA Integrated News