AN OFFICIAL of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Mandaue City has confirmed receiving people’s initiative (PI) sheets with roughly 35,000 signatures purportedly from the city’s residents alone, all seeking to revise the 1987 Constitution.
Comelec Mandaue Election Officer Anna Fleur Gujilde said Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, they received the forms since last week.
They will recount the signatures before issuing a certification to the Comelec en banc regarding the total number of signatures submitted, said Gujilde.
Once the Comelec en banc issues an order for verification, the local Comelec office will start to verify the signatures to determine if they were indeed from active registered voters in the city.
Gujilde said the form must also contain the specific constitutional changes the signatory wants implemented and the old constitutional provision the person tries to amend, which the PI sheets failed to provide.
The PI refers to either a mode for constitutional amendment provided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution or to the act of pushing an initiative (national or local) allowed by the Philippine Initiative and Referendum Act of 1987, gathered through public votes via mass signature campaign.
For the PI to be effective, Gujilde said the campaign should gather the signatures of at least 12 percent of the country’s total voting population, which translates to three percent signatories per legislative district nationwide.
There were 236,668 registered voters in Mandaue City in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections last October 2023. Gujilde said based on that figure, there has to be 3,000 valid signatures in Mandaue City.
Once Comelec offices verify the validity of the signatures and forms, its main office in Manila will conduct a plebiscite to reconfirm the public’s choice to amend the Constitution.
Earlier this month, there were reports of several House of Representatives members supposedly asking mayors to give P100 to every constituent who would sign a petition to amend a constitutional provision that directs the two houses of Congress to vote separately when modifying the 1987 Constitution.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman claimed Albay mayors were allegedly gathered in a meeting last Jan. 5 and had been given PI forms and mobilization funds to distribute to their constituents.
Meanwhile, Sen. Imee Marcos alleged that legislative districts, nationwide, were given P20 million to buy voter’s signatures and said the money was released through various government programs, particularly cash aid distributions.
Marcos also said she received a text message from an unknown number with a detailed timeline for the said charter change campaign implementation using the people’s initiative.
Gujilde could not confirm if the accumulated PI forms they received were administered through Mandaue’s cash assistance payouts.
SunStar Cebu tried to contact Mandaue Lone District Rep. Emmarie “Lolypop” Ouano-Dizon, but the latter has not commented yet on the issue.