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MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Sara Duterte on Friday, January 19, urged Filipinos to “safeguard” the Constitution as she slammed those behind what she called a questionable signature campaign for charter change through people’s initiative across the country.
“Mga kababayan, ang isinasagawang ‘Pera kapalit ng pirma para sa People’s Initiative’ ay patuloy na nangyayari araw-araw sa siyudad ng Davao at iba pang bahagi ng Pilipinas,” she said in a statement over a week after it was reported that a people’s initiative for charter change was taking place in various parts of the country, including her hometown, Davao City.
“Ito ay pagsasamantala sa kahirapan ng ating mga mamamayan at kawalan ng respeto sa kanilang karapatan na magdesisyon nang malaya, walang takot, o impluwensya gamit ang salapi,” Duterte said.
(My countrymen, the ‘money in exchange for signatures for people’s initiative’ continues to happen every dau in Davao City and other parts of the country…. This is the exploitation of the poverty of our citizens and disrespect for their right to make decisions freely, without fear, or monetary influence.)
“Ang patuloy na pagsulong sa people’s initiative at charter change, sa kabila ng laganap na kahirapan at kawalan ng katiyakan sa ating kapayapaan at kaayusan, ay masakit na palatandaan sa kabiguang matukoy ang tunay na mga problema ng mga Pilipino at solusyonan ang mga ito,” Duterte said.
(The continued campaign for people’s initiative and charter change, despite widespread poverty and uncertainty in our peace and order, are painful reminders that we have yet to identify the real problems faced by Filipinos and actually solve them.)
Referring to proposed constitutional amendments that seek to open up the economy to foreign investors, the Vice President said: “Sana ay unahin nating pag-usapan ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipino kaysa sa pagpasok sa mga dayuhan sa ating bansa. Unahin muna natin ang Pilipinas. Ingatan po natin ang ating Saligang Batas.”
(Discussions on the welfare of Filipinos should be prioritized over the entry of foreigners into our country. Let us put the Philippines first. Let us safeguard our Constitution.)
Kabataan Partylist, in a statement last week, revealed that those behind the petition hope to get a plebiscite done before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s third State of the Nation Address in July. The organizers are hoping to complete the signature requirement by this month.
For a people’s initiative to succeed, at least 3% of registered voters in each congressional district should sign the petition. In total, at least 12% of the country’s voters should back the call for charter change.
“I think most of the country, by next week… we must have already achieved beyond the 12% of [the] national [requirement],” Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda said in a press conference on Thursday, January 18.
Members of the House of Representatives have always been eager to amend the Constitution. Salceda noted that there have been 358 past attempts by House lawmakers to update the supreme law of the land.
All previous attempts failed as their Senate counterparts were not too keen on amending the Constitution.
On Monday, however, Senate President Migz Zubiri filed Resolution of Both Houses No. 6, “proposing amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.” – Rappler.com