House Speaker denies giving orders for people’s initiative efforts

MANILA. House Speaker Martin Romualdez.
MANILA. House Speaker Martin Romualdez.Photo from Romualdez's Facebook page

HOUSE Speaker Martin Romualdez denied on Monday, January 22, 2024, issuing an order for his fellow lawmakers to gather signatures for the people’s initiative for Charter change (Cha-cha).

In an interview with reporters, Romualdez denied the claims of Senator Ronald dela Rosa that he ordered the members of the House of Representatives to do the signature campaign, which seeks to amend the 1987 Constitution.

“I don't know what he's talking about. He has not mentioned any congressman," Romualdez said.

"No orders," he added.

Dela Rosa said the information came from a congressman whom he did not name.

Dela Rosa said that in Davao City, those who will sign the people’s initiative forms will be given a claim stub and can get as much as P3,000.

He said the claim stub comes from “congressmen,” but Dela Rosa said Davao City Representatives Paolo Duterte and Isidro Ungab were not part of them.

“Many congressmen are saying they were just ordered by the leadership,” said Dela Rosa.

In December, Romualdez said 2024 is the right time for Cha-cha, noting that the lower chamber is inclined to launch a people’s initiative to determine how they should vote for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution.

In the Senate, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said they will come up with a manifesto rejecting the people’s initiative for Cha-cha.

Earlier, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the Senate to take the lead in the conduct of review in the economic provisions of the Constitution amid the people’s initiative.

Zubiri said Marcos agreed with them that the proposals under the people’s initiative were “too divisive.”

He said it may lead to a constitutional crisis, destabilization of bicameralism and may upset the system of checks and balances.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva urged the public to report incidents of bribery related to people’s initiative.

"Kung meron pong nagoyo, nabudol, gustong magreklamo at bawiin ang kanilang pirma, huwag po kayong matakot magsumbong. Magpadala o magpost ng video, picture o screenshot ng mga text ng panunuhol," Villanueva said.

(If someone has been offended, wants to complain and withdraw their signature, don't be afraid to report. Send or post a video, picture or screenshot of bribery texts.)

"Ipagbigay alam niyo rin po sa amin ang inyong pangalan, tirahan at contact details para matulungan po namin kayo na maprotektahan at maipagtanggol ang inyong karapatan," he added.

(Please also let us know your name, address and contact details so that we can help you protect and defend your rights.)

For his part, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Benjamin Acorda Jr. said the PNP will remain apolitical but will act on any incidents that violate the law.

“Unless there is violation of law and yan ang titingnan natin kung may (we will look into) violations of law kasi ang gusto ko ang ating kapulisan talagang professionalism lang, nothing political,” he said.

“Yan ang mga tinitingnan natin, mga coercion or something. Pag-aaralan naming (We will study it)…As of now we have not received any formal communications on that (to monitor efforts for people’s initiative),” he added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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