Advocates of people’s initiative (PI) have already gathered more than enough signatures to push for a direct amendment of the Constitution, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda today said.
He told reporters that the support of at least three percent of voters in each congressional district and a minimum of 12 percent nationwide has already been gathered by PI supporters.
In fact, he said 12.1 percent of voters have signed the petition for a direct constitutional amendment.
“Well, the Constitution is alive. Buhay na buhay po ang Konstitusyon. Kung akala nila ganun kahirap yung paghanap ng 12 percent, may mga distrito, katulad sa distrito ko 20 percent, may ibang distrito 30 percent. Kasi, ang isyu ngayon ano ba ang maganda para sa kinabukasan ng Pilipinas,” he said.
He said the petition to allow Congress to vote jointly on any proposed Charter amend is now being finalized and would soon be filed by PI organizers.
“Well talagang inaayos lang. Syempre and of course the request for validation by the Comelec is the necessary next step,” he added.
Reacting to the manifesto issued by the Senate, Salceda said it is the people who should prevail, not 24 senators.
He said seven senators opposed to PI or constitutional change should not be allowed to “trump the voice of the 12 percent of the population.”
He said if senators are calling PI as politicians’ initiative, they have a very low regard for the people who support the Charter reform petition.
“Madali naman po talagang mag name calling. Pero yung 12.1 percent of the population that signed on I think, masyado naman mababaw ang tingin nila sa mga tao kung ganun. Hindi mo basta-basta mapapapirma yun,” he stressed.
He pointed out that senators are free to campaign against the PI petition advocating joint voting by Congress on constitutional change.
He added that PI now seems to be the only viable option for Charter reform.
Asked about the recent agreement between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and senators to push for amending the Constitution’s economic provisions, Salceda said: “It’s most welcome. Yung naman talaga yung unang, yung RBH (Resolution of Both Houses ) No. 2, which is approved in the House. There were 358 attempts on the part of the…bills filed in the House and all of them were dead on arrival in the Senate.”
“Since for the past 37 years. So, in fact the biggest number was 54 right after the Constitution was ratified in 1987. On the very first Congress. So nasa tao na po yan kung gusto nilang tuloy tuloy na maiwanan tayo ng mundo at dati, lamang tayo sa Indonesia, sa Thailand, sa Vietnam. Ngayon, hindi naman sa naghahanap tayo ng masisisi pero pag-aralan ninyo ng maigi,” he said.
He claimed that the Philippines has lagged behind its neighbors because of constitutional restrictions in several areas of the economy.
“Tingnan n’yo, saan nagsimula tayo makulelat. Nung 87, dahil sila nagbukas, tayo nagsara. E sinasabi naman, 1902, mayroon namang restrictive provisions, pero nag to the max, pati media, yung advertising, pati education, pati practicing profession. So yung mga Pilipino kailangan pang pumunta kasi yung expert, let’s say nasa Singapore, kailangan pang pumunta dun, imbes na yun magpractice dito. So that’s not possible under the current Constitution,” he said.
Asked about effecting Charter reform via the legislative process, Salceda said it may not be possible “given the adamant and almost violent response of the Senate to the people’s initiative.”
“I think – I hope they’re still open naman…kasi kung yung ano ginamit lang sana nila sa kanilang framework yung RBH 2, yun ang finile nila e di at least I think there’s room na we could jointly tackle it, o, separately tackle it. But they are already limited it to the three. So the only way for the House is to reject it. Kasi tatatlo lang e, tapos yung impact lang is 1.78 percent of GDP. So it will not suffice in order for the Philippines to catch up with the rest of our neighbors,” he said.