NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
A huge majority of the 1.3 million Boholanos are up against the on-going move to amend the 1987 Constitution through “People’s Initiative.”
A radio survey conducted by DYRD last Thursday showed 91 percent of the respondents are not in favor for a People’s Initiative which gathering of signatories is marred with reports of “buying” the people’s support.
A highly placed source told the Chronicle that a staff of a Boholano solon delivered the two-page survey form to the mayors who were asked to convene their barangay captains who will be tasked to get the signatures of the electorates.
As alleged, the barangay captains were allotted P2,000 each as “mobilization fund” while reports likewise said each signatory will be paid P100 with a promise of additional cash benefits to be delivered later.
Meanwhile, Bishop Alberto Uy and Bishop Daniel Patrick Parcon of the Diocese of Tagbilaran and Diocese of Talibon, respectively issued a joint pastoral letter warning the parishioners of a “dubious way of soliciting the support of the people to amend the Constitution.
The strongly worded warning asked the people “not to sell their signatures” on the said campaign for charter change. In fact, the church statement called the present signature campaign as “Piso Initiative” as money would be flowing to “buy the signatures” of the people.
The pastoral letter will be read in today’s Holy Masses in all churches in the province.
Bishop Uy who is attending the annual retreat of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Phils. (CBCP) in Manila informed the Chronicle that there were still nine dioceses who issued a pastoral letter to the effect while there was none yet so far from the CBCP. These are the dioceses of Batanes, Boac, Dipolog, Kidapawan, Legazpi, Marawi, Taytay, Tagbilaran and Talibon.
The Chronicle learned that House Speaker Martin Romualdez, tagged as the mastermind of this campaign for People’s Initiative sought audience to the church leaders attending the CBCP Retreat in Manila.
The church leaders expressed their sentiments on why no consultation regarding the “People’s Initiative” and why there is money involved.
Likewise, the church leaders do not believe that the Constitution is the reason for the economic woes. In fact, they said to address the socio-economic problems, the present Constitution has to be implemented well.
SOLONS SILENT ON THE ISSUE
The three Bohol solons, Edgar Chatto, Vanessa Aumentado and Alexi Tutor were silent when asked on whether they are supporting Congress’ call for a People’s Initiative.
The solons did not reply until press time last night, asking them whether they are “supporting the call for a Charter Change/People’s Initiative.”
Unconfirmed reports said one congressional district in the province have generated sizeable signatories supporting the People’s Initiative after the reported “mobilization fund” were released to the signatories through their barangay captains.
The Chronicle obtained a copy of the cover page of the circulated paper soliciting the people’s signature of support.
The opening statement said “WE are aware that the PETITION shall be filed with the Commission on Elections for the PROPOSAL to AMEND ARTICLE XVII, SECTION 1 (1) OF THE 1987 CONSTITUION THROUGH PEOPLE’S INITATIVE. The AMENDMENT to ARTICLE XVII, Section 1 (1) follows:
AMENDMENTS OF REIVISIONS
SECTION 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be sponsored by:
(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members, VOTING JOINTLY, AT THE CALL OF THE SENATE PRESIDENT OR THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENATATIVES.
PAY-OFF FOR A YES SUPPORT
Why pay them to sign the petition, the prelates’ statement said.
“Dili dautan nga konsultahon ang katawhan pinaagi og tiunay nga People’s Initiative. Apan walay klaro nga pagpasabot kon unsay bag-ohon sa balaod? Ug nganong bayran man?”
The prelates said that it is not bad to consult the people thru the genuine people’s initiative. But there was no clear attempt to make the people understand what to amend in the Constitution.
They lamented that there are a lot of problems – like corruption in the government, West Philippine sea and environment – facing the country that must be given attention.
“AYAW IBUGTI ANG IMONG PIRMA PINAAGI LAMANG SA SALAPI. Paninglan kita sa mga umaabot nga mga henerasyon kon kita magpalingla. Ug dili ta kalimtan ang mga pulong sa Dios: “Pagmalig-on kamo ug pagmaisogon. Ayaw kahadlok kay ubanan kamo sa GINOO nga inyong Dios.”
In the city, a certain petition signed by several individuals whose names are concealed in one of the barangays of Tagbilaran City was being circulated and posted in social media.
The petition cited the section 1(1), article XVII of the Philippine Constitution as the basis of the PI.
The petition carries the columns of names of the petitioners, address, precinct number and signature.
It was not immediately known if the city hall is aware of this PI signature campaign for ChaCha.
PI has drawn flak from Vice-President and DepEd secretary Sara Z. Duterte, The Senate and Bayan Muna.
In her statement posted in her official facebook page, Duterte said, “Mga kababayan, ang isinasagawang “Pera kapalit ng pirma para sa People’s Initiative ay patuloy na nangyayari araw-araw sa siyudad ng Davao at sa iba pang bahagi ng bansa.”
“Usa kini ka pagpanamaytamay sa dignidad sa mga yanong katawhang Pilipino.” (This PI in exchange of money is disrepute of the dignity of the people), Duterte said.
“Ang patuloy na pagsulong sa people’s initiative at charter change, sa kabila ng laganap na kahirapan at kawalan ng katiyakan sa ating kapayapaan at kaayusan, ay masakit na palatandaan sa kabiguang matukoy ang tunay na mga problema ng mga Pilipino at solusyonan ang mga ito,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Senate led by Senate President Migz Zubiri rejects the attempt ChaCha thru PI via an official statement unanimously signed by all Senators.
The statement said that the Senate must guard any sinister act for ChaCha “by exploiting our democratic processes under the guise of P.I.”
It said that the goal of P.I is clear —- to eliminate the Senate in the equation. “It will destabilize the principle of bicameralism and he system of check and balances.”
Bayan Muna chairman Atty. Neri Culminares had this to say: “This ChaCha is very dangerous because it seeks to oust the Senate from the process of amending the Constitution and centralize that power to the House of Representatives thereby diluting the checks and balance in Congress.”
He urged the oppositors to file cases in local courts and Comelec against use of public funds in PI campaign.
He also urged the Senate and others who are opposing the current PI “to first oppose the initiative in the local level before going up to the Supreme Court.”