MANILA, PHILIPPINES – All 24 senators have signed a manifesto rejecting the people’s initiative (PI) for Charter change (Cha-cha) and warning of a possible no-election scenario.
The Senate President, Juan Miguel Zubiri, promptly presented the manifesto on Tuesday, January 23, as soon as the session resumed, reading it aloud before the Senate floor.
“Today, the Senate once again stands as the country’s last bastion of democracy, as it rejects this brazen attempt to violate the Constitution, the country and our people,” read the manifesto, a copy of which was later released to reporters.
“This Senate of the people will not allow itself to be silenced,” the manifesto stressed.
The manifesto stated that the individual referred to as PI has a singular objective: for both the Senate and the House of Representatives to collectively vote on any modifications to the 1987 Constitution.
“While it seems simple, the goal is apparent. To make it easier to revise the Constitution by eliminating the Senate from the equation. It is an obvious prelude to future amendments, revisions, or even an overhaul of the entire Constitution,” the manifesto stated.
The senators called the ongoing people’s initiative as a “sinister and underhanded attempt to change the Constitution by exploiting our democratic process.”
“The Senate once again stands as a bastion of democracy as it rejects this brazen attempt to violate the Constitution, the country, and our people… The Senate of the people will not allow itself to be silenced,” the manifesto read.
The people’s initiative aims to amend the Constitution to enable a joint vote by Congress during a constituent assembly. Critics perceive this as an attempt to overpower the Senate’s 24 votes with the House of Representatives’ over 300 votes.
In a statement, Speaker Martin Romualdez clarified that the House of Representatives is not directly involved in the people’s initiative. However, he acknowledged and respected it as a form of expression by the Filipino people.
“The People’s Initiative stands as a direct expression of the people’s will, providing a means for citizens to propose constitutional amendments. The House does not endorse or sanction direct participation by its members in signature gathering, ensuring the process’s integrity and independence remains intact,” Romualdez said.
By endorsing the manifesto, Padilla restated his endorsement of Cha-cha (Charter Change) and the three methods of amending the Constitution: through a constitutional convention, a constituent assembly, and a people’s initiative.
He, however, stressed his stand against the proposed joint voting on Cha-cha.
“Ako ay laban sa Congress voting jointly. Dapat ay separately,” he said.
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