Palma not in favor of people’s initiative

CEBU. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in an interview with the media on Wednesday, February 14, 2024.
CEBU. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in an interview with the media on Wednesday, February 14, 2024.Photo by Earl Kim Padronia

CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma joined the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in opposing the People's Initiative (PI), which seeks to amend certain provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

In an interview with members of the media on Wednesday, February 14, 2024, Palma said he respects the decision of some individuals who signed the petition, stressing that it is their right under a democratic and free country.

CEBU. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in an interview with the media on Wednesday, February 14, 2024.
CBCP warns: Charter change poses risk of authoritarianism

CEBU Archbishop Jose Palma supports the stance of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) against the people’s initiative, which aims to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Palma told reporters on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, that he respects the decision of individuals who signed the petition for Charter change as they have the right to do so; however, the archbishop said signing the petition in exchange for financial assistance or other forms of reward is another issue, particularly if this was initiated by politicians or influential people.

“That is another reason why we said no to the signature campaign. Do they understand what they are signing?” Palma said.

The people’s initiative has become controversial due to allegations of “signatures for sale,” or the offering of social financial aid in exchange for signatures.

One of the methods proposed to amend the constitution was a signature campaign.

A petition signed by at least 12 percent of registered voters, with representation from every legislative district of at least three percent, is needed for the petition to proceed.

Modification

The people’s initiative aims to modify Article 17, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, allowing all members of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) to jointly cast votes for proposed constitutional amendments. Senators criticized the move in a manifesto, saying the 24-member Upper Chamber cannot “cannot cast any meaningful vote against the 316 members of the House of Representatives.”

Palma expressed his support for the bishops’ collective decision to oppose the signature campaign.

CEBU. Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in an interview with the media on Wednesday, February 14, 2024.
CEAP rejects People's Initiative to amend 1987 Constitution

He added that the Archdiocese of Cebu will adopt the CBCP’s stance and will refrain from issuing a separate statement on the matter.

In Cebu City’s south district, Election Officer Marchel Sarno revealed on Jan. 18 that they received around 47,000 signatures for the people’s initiative.

The signatures, he said, exceeded the three percent minimum number of registered voters in every legislative district to proceed with the people’s initiative.

CBCP stance

In a statement on Jan. 31, CBCP president Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David told the Filipinos to disallow the so-called “deceptive systems” to continue, saying the signature campaign of the People’s Initiative was not a result of careful study and discussion.

David said that allegedly it was initiated by a few public servants and meant that it did not come from the voice of the ordinary citizens.

“It involves deception and disregard for our true and free participation in the democratic process of our country. Is that good?” David said.

He believed, based on some experts’ opinions, that it is possible to address economic concerns without amending the current Constitution.

On Jan. 29, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) suspended all the proceedings concerning the people’s initiative.

Comelec Chairperson George Garcia said in a press conference that this includes suspending the acceptance of the signature forms until further notice. He said they still have to review the existing implementing rules and regulations regarding the people’s initiative.

The report added that as of Jan. 26, 2024, the Comelec has received signature forms related to PI from 1,072 municipalities and cities across the country.

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