47K signatures gathered for people's initiative

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THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) - Cebu City South District has received around 47,000 signatures for the people’s initiative, aiming to amend various provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

In an interview on Jan. 18, 2024, Marchel Sarno, Cebu City South District election officer, said that as of the moment, they have issued certification to the Comelec en banc that they have received the mass signature campaign.

Sarno, a lawyer, said the 47,000 signatures have already surpassed the required three percent of registered voters for every legislative district, necessary to advance the people’s initiative.

Cebu City South District, with about 400,000 registered voters, only needed 12,000 signatures from registered voters to proceed with the campaign to amend some provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

The ongoing people’s initiative campaign seeks to amend Article 17 Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, which will allow all members of Congress to jointly vote on proposed constitutional amendments.

North District

In the Cebu City North District, Sarno said there have been no reports of the signature campaign being submitted to the legislative district’s Comelec office.

“Amo lang i-certify kung pila ka signature ang among nadawat and if si Comelec mo issue og order nga i-verify ang signature, (diha) usa mi mo-verify,” Sarno said.

(We only certify the number of signatures we have received, and if Comelec issues an order to verify the signatures, we will then verify them.)

“Ang signatures kay wala pa nato gi-check, whether registered voter ba ug pareho ba ang iyahang stroke sa iyahang signature,” he added.

(We have not checked the signatures yet to see if they are from registered voters and if the strokes in their signatures match.)

According to the 1987 Constitution, the provision for a signature campaign or people’s initiative allows registered voters to directly propose amendments to the constitution. This provision states that “through initiative upon a petition of at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voters, every legislative district must be represented by at least three percent of the registered voters therein.”

The provision states that any amendment to, or revision of, the Constitution may be proposed by (1) the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or (2) a constitutional convention.

After the Comelec en banc confirms the authenticity of the signatures and forms, the main office will hold a plebiscite to reaffirm the public’s decision to revise the 1987 Constitution.

Paid for signatures?

Some members of the House of Representatives received reports alleging that people who participated in and signed for the people’s initiatives had been paid.

Sarno, however, told reporters that verifying whether the signature campaign was conducted in good faith or not does not fall within Comelec’s jurisdiction.

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