PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered the Senate to take the lead in reviewing the economic provisions of the Constitution amid the people’s initiative for Charter change (Cha-cha), Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said Monday, January 15, 2024.
In a press conference, Zubiri said Marcos gave them the instruction during a congressional meeting, which he along with Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda and House Speaker Martin Romualdez attended on January 11 before the Vin d’Honneur.
During the meeting, Zubiri said Marcos agreed with them that the proposal under the people’s initiative was “too divisive.”
“The President agreed with us that the proposal was too divisive, and asked the Senate to instead take the lead in reviewing the economic provisions of the Constitution. In this way, we can preserve our bicameral nature of legislation,” said Zubiri.
The Senate President said the proposal subject of the people’s initiative may lead to constitutional crisis, destabilization of bicameralism and may upset the system of checks and balances.
“While we respect and recognize the people as our sovereign, with the right to call for Constitutional change, we must guard against any attempt to revise the Constitution by exploiting our democratic process under the guise of a people’s initiative,” he said.
“While the Constitution must be reviewed in keeping with the demands of the present and the possibilities of the future, we believe that we must first exhaust all other avenues open to us, through policy-making and legislation,” Zubiri added.
Zubiri said the Senate has prepared a resolution signed by him, Legarda and Senator Sonny Angara on the amendment of the economic provision of the Constitution even before the President’s order.
He said Angara will lead a subcommittee on the committee on constitutional amendments to tackle the issue.
The Senate Committee on constitutional amendments is chaired by rookie Senator Robin Padilla.
“We chose Senator Angara kasi kailangan talaga natin dito ay abogado. With due respect, hindi ko pa nakakausap si Senator Robin Padilla, he’s still abroad but when he comes back ay kakausapin po namin siya at nagre-request kami na kung pwede na para dito sa usaping ito ay we will ask a creation of a subcommittee for this purpose,” Zubiri said.
Padilla earlier filed a resolution for the amendment of political provisions of the Constitution particularly to prolong the terms of the country’s president, vice president and senators.
At the House of Representatives, House Deputy Minority Leader ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro has called for a probe into the alleged signature for sale for Cha-cha peoples’ initiative, noting that it is being done alongside with the distribution of government financial assistance.
Earlier, House Speaker Martin Romualdez said 2024 is the right time for Cha-cha, noting that the lower chamber is inclined of launching a people’s initiative to determine how they should vote for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution.
“We will highly recommend that we embark on a people-centered initiative to cure this impasse, so to speak, on how we vote. And I hope that we can undertake this as soon as possible so we could have some clarity on the procedures. We'd like to have that [procedural problem] resolved by and through a people's initiative,” Romualdez said in a Philippine Economic Forum in Iloilo.
On Sunday, presidential sister, Senator Imee Marcos, said it is no surprise that the people’s initiative, which is reportedly being fueled by money as low as P100 and as much as P1,000, is being linked to Romualdez, who is their cousin, as the names and mobile numbers of those talking to the people and spreading text messages are his staff.
“Mukhang surprise gift daw ito para sa Sona (State of the Nation Address). Nakaka nerbiyos naman,” she said.
“Hindi ko alam kung alam niya (President Marcos) pero dapat alam niya kasi dapat alam mo lahat. Kaya lang magdahan-dahan sila kasi sinasamantala nila kasi mabait pero pag nagalit, ang mabait mataray din yan,” she added. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)