DAVAO City Third District Representative Isidro Ungab expressed concern over documents related to charter change circulating in his area, where constituents were allegedly offered P2,000 to P3,000 for their signatures.
In a press statement on January 10, 2024, Ungab revealed that residents were asked to sign "petition forms" related to amending the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
“I also received information that residents were asked to affix their signatures on these `petition forms' relative to the amendment of several provisions in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, in exchange for claim stubs reportedly with an equivalent value ranging from P2,000 to P3,000,” Ungab wrote in the caption.
The signature campaign, allegedly orchestrated by leaders of the Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist, involves obtaining signatures in support of constitutional amendments.
Ungab emphasized the importance of providing clear explanations about the initiative and constitution to ensure informed consent.
He strongly denounced such behavior as "vote buying" and insisted that the "consent of the governed" in any political process should be based on free will and not tainted by manipulation.
“The people's vote is not for sale. The vote of Dabawenyos, most especially the people in the Third District of Davao City, is not for sale!,” Ungab said.
His stance aligns with First District Representative Paolo "Pulong" Z. Duterte, who criticized the people's initiative for charter change, viewing it as an attempt to consolidate power.
Duterte urged Dabawenyos not to compromise their principles for financial gain.
“I have kept my silence all through these months since I do not want my constituents to suffer from the dirty politics in the House of Representatives. To all Dabawenyos, do not sell your soul for a mere P100 or P10,000 in exchange for your signature. If you want to follow the minions of the person dreaming to be great in Congress to perdition that is your choice,” he added.
Davao City residents, such as Marietta Amodia and Jean P. Gavanez, shared their experiences of being approached to sign the petition without fully understanding its content.
Amodia of Barangay 21-C told SunStar Davao in a phone interview, that she noticed the petition paper being held by her neighbor who signed it without reading its description.
She initially believed the list was for "fisherfolks" receiving their 'pahalipay.'
After Duterte's post gained online traction, Amodia revisited her neighbor, took a photo of the petition, and conducted her own research. Upon understanding the initiative's purpose, she promptly approached her neighbor and withdrew her signature from the document. Amodia noted that many of her neighbors had signed without checking the contents.
“Wala man gyu’y nag-explain kung para sa asa to, ang giingon lang daw naay kaayuhan, syempre nga kita, sa kapobrehon ba naman karon unya kung muingon nga kaayuhan syempre mo-pirma-pirma ra gyud na sila labi nang walay alamag (There was no one who explained for what purpose are the documents. All they mentioned was that there would be benefits, and, naturally, in today's economic conditions, when some claims it's for the betterment, people, especially those unaware, readily sign without understanding),” Amodia said.
In a text message to SunStar Davao, Gavanez, a resident of Barangay Talomo Proper, revealed that she nearly signed the petition.
"Mupirma na unta ko, may nalang kay gibasa nako unya dili man pahalipay ang nakabutang, lahi man. Akoang gisendan ug picture akong anak unya ana man siya na dili mupirma ato kay dilli daw to pahalipay (I was about to sign it, but luckily, I read the contents and realized it wasn't about providing benefits. I sent a picture of it to my child, and she advised against signing as it wasn't about giving goods)," Gavanez explained.
Both Gavanez and Amodia urged their fellow Dabawenyos to thoroughly read documents before signing, cautioning about the possibility of being deceived into signing without understanding the document's contents. RGP