PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Tuesday, January 30, 2024, that he is unsure if the People’s Initiative (PI) would remain as one of the options of the administration for amending the 1987 Constitution.
In an interview with reporters before he flew back to the Philippines from Vietnam, Marcos said his administration is working with allies to identify the best mode to amend the Constitution.
He said among those they are confiding were former chief justice now Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and former senator now chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile.
“So the details have not yet been decided upon. That is precisely what we will be working on,” said Marcos.
"As of now, the people's initiative is, they're continuing, but I don't know if that is still one of the options that remain for us," he added.
Amid the seemingly divided Congress due to the controversies surrounding the PI, Marcos urged the Senate and the House of Representatives to come up with a simpler solution that does not cause so much controversy.
“Napupunta sa ibang usapan, eh, at nagagamit na pangpulitika itong isyu na ito (It goes to another conversation, and this issue is being used politically). So, I’ve asked the leaders of both Houses and again, some of the best constitutional minds that we have in the Philippines to come up with a simpler solution that does not cause so much controversy,” he said.
“The best analysis and interpretation that we have is that the legislature is of a bicameral nature and therefore that implies that they will vote separately. So, how that will be done now is what we are trying to figure out, how will it be done so that both Houses’ role in this bicameral system is preserved and that is what we are working on right now,” he added.
The PI for Charter change (Cha-cha) was being criticized over the reported payouts in exchange for signature.
House Speaker Martin Romualdez was being accused of being behind the monetary reward although he had repeatedly denied any involvement in it.
The signature drive will determine how the upper and lower chamber of Congress would vote for future Cha-cha efforts.
On January 23, the Senate unanimously signed a manifesto rejecting the PI for Cha-cha, which the chamber tagged as a “brazen attempt to violate the Constitution, the country and our people.”
It noted that the Senate, which has 24 members, will be outnumbered and cannot cast any meaningful vote against the House of Representatives, which has 316 members.
The Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms chaired by Senator Imee Marcos launched an investigation on the anomalies surrounding the signature drive for PI.
Without naming names, Senator Marcos apparently took a swipe at Romualdez, who is also her cousin, over his statement that the Senate should not meddle on the discussion related to PI.
“Ang sino man na nagsabing walang pakialam ang Senado sa usaping ito, isa lang ang masasabi ko: Walang gamot sa kakapalan ng mukha mo,” she said in his opening statement during the hearing.
(Whoever said that the Senate doesn't care about this matter, I have only one thing to say: There is no cure for the thickness of your face.)
In response, Romualdez asked Senator Marcos for some respect.
“Ang pakiusap ko lang kay Senator Imee. Hindi po kailangan ng bastusan. Pinakikinggan tayo ng mga kabataan at hindi magandang ehemplo ang ganito,” he said.
(My only request is for Senator Imee not to be rude. Young people listen to us and this is not a good example.) (TPM/SunStar Philippines)