SENATOR Imee Marcos urged his brother, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., to stand firm and put an end to the People’s Initiative (PI), which seeks to amend the 1987 constitution.
“Until now, he says that we need to study it [and] consult legal luminaries. The Commission on Elections, on its own, has said that the signatures are still alive -- there’s no deadline, there’s no expiry date, and they can be used and recycled for future effort. Let’s set that aside. It’s illegally and unconstitutionally obtained. Let us not let this happen,” Senator Marcos said in a television interview on Thursday, February 1, 2024.
The House of Representatives and the Senate have disagreeing positions on the PI amid claims of it being used for corruption.
Senator Marcos accused her cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, of granting monetary reward to the tune of P20 million per legislative district in exchange of signatures for the PI.
Romualdez denied the accusations as he maintained any involvement for the push for PI.
Senator Marcos, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms, launched an investigation on the alleged anomalies related to PI as the Senate unanimously approved a manifesto rejecting constitutional amendment through PI.
During the hearing, People’s Initiative for Modernization and Reform Action (Pirma) lead convenor Noel Oñate admitted that he sought help from Romualdez in order to boost the signature drive, particularly to get three percent of signatures per congressional district.
On Wednesday, January 31, 2024, Marcos said his administration is working with allies to identify the best mode to amend the Constitution but he is not certain if PI would remain as one of the options.
He also urged the Senate and the House of Representatives to come up with a simpler solution that does not cause so much controversy.
Meanwhile, Senator Marcos also called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to echo President Marcos’ stand on issues surrounding the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation on the alleged crimes against humanities in the country under the drug war of the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.
"I am confused by the stand of the administration. The President says 100 percent 'no.' The DOJ says, 'well, if they come, we'll entertain them' or 'they're just here... as observers.' Ano 'yon? Parang turistang namasyal pero iniinterview ang mga testigo? Nalalabuan ako e. Gusto ko talaga marinig kung ano e (What's that? A tourist interviewing witnesses? I'm confused. I really want to hear what it really is)," she added.
Earlier, Senator Marcos said she will continue to stand up for the Dutertes, noting that the former President was the reason for her father’s transfer to the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, which for her was a sign of “true friendship.”
Senator Marcos expressed belief that the ICC investigation was one of the factors that prompted former President Duterte to verbally attack his brother.
During the prayer rally on Sunday, January 28, former President Duterte tagged President Marcos as “drug addict” and “bangag,” the local term used to describe a person who is high on illegal drugs.
In response, President Marcos said his predecessor’s outburst could be due to fentanyl, a regulated pain reliever that the former President admitted to be over-using due to migraine and spinal issues.
Former President Duterte dared his successor for them to undergo drug tests in Luneta.
He also noted that the medicine was prescribed to him by his doctors.
"Fentanyl is a medical thing, it eases up the pain. Pero nung naoperahan na ako, okay na ako (But when I had the surgery, I was fine) and that was about eight or seven years ago, shortly before I run for presidency. Nagkaroon ako nang... talagang masakit. Itong fentanyl po, Mr. President, it is prescribed by a doctor. With prescription yan," Duterte said.
"Ngayon bumwelta ka sa akin ng ganon (fentanyl use), tatanungin kita yung cocaine may prescription ba yan? Saan mo kinukuha yang supply mo?" he added.
(Now you’re using that (fentanyl use) argument with me. I'll ask you about the cocaine, does it have a prescription? Where do you get your supply?)
Marcos earlier maintained that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the country but according to former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, he obtained information that investigators from the ICC have gathered enough evidence against former President Duterte in relation to his drug war when they visited the country in December.
Trillanes said an arrest warrant against the former President may be out “very very soon.”
Despite the exchange of attacks between the former and the concurrent presidents of the Republic, President Marcos maintained that his relationship with Vice President Sara Duterte is still vibrant and that their Uniteam remains intact.
Senator Marcos said she will also do anything to save the Uniteam.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Vice President Duterte said she respects the opinion of his father and that there is no need for her to agree with him.
"Taos puso po akong nagpapasalamat kay Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos Jr. para sa kanyang patuloy na tiwala at kompyansa sa akin bilang kalihim ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon," she said.
(I sincerely thank President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for his continued trust and confidence in me as secretary of the Department of Education.)
"Mahalaga ang kanyang pagkilala sa papel ng lahat ng bumubuo ng Department of Education sa pagsulong ng 8-point Socioeconomic Agenda ng Marcos administration para sa isang Bagong Pilipinas. Nagpapasalamat in ako kay Apo BBM sa kanyang paggalang sa aking mga paninidigan," she added.
(His recognition of the role of all the members of the Department of Education in promoting the 8-point Socioeconomic Agenda of the Marcos administration for a New Philippines is important. I thank Apo BBM for his respect for my beliefs.) (TPM/SunStar Philippines)