Signatures meant to show support for constituent assembly—DILG
This is with reference to the news article “Pinoys too worried to Cha-cha” (1/14/21), by reporters Jeannette Andrade and Krixia Subingsubing, which contained several factual errors that urgently need to be corrected so as not to mislead the public about the role of the Department of the Interior and Local Government relative to constitutional reform.
1. The second paragraph reads: “And even if it did not even meet half of its 2-million target, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) submitted to the House of Representatives on Wednesday a petition calling for the lifting of ‘restrictive economic provisions’ in the Constitution.” Correction: The two-million target was a number we imposed upon ourselves pre-COVID-19 when the DILG was still able to actively conduct its public advocacy campaign down to the barangay level. Given that we are currently in a pandemic, we adjusted our targets, shifted the campaign online, and relied more on our partners in civil society, especially the Constitutional Reform (CORE) Movement. The 555,610 signatures still constitute a large number, and they deserve to be submitted to the Congress of the Philippines.
2. The third paragraph reads: “But the petition, spearheaded by a task force headed by the DILG, carried only 555,610 unverified signatures with 24 resolutions of local government units, including one issued by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines.” Correction: What we submitted was NOT a petition but an expression of support by more than half a million private individuals through physical signatures gathered during the CORE provincial roadshows, which started in 2019 until just before COVID-19 hit last year. A petition, on the other hand, refers to a gathering of signatures for a People’s Initiative under Article XVII, Section 2. Again, please note, we are not gathering signatures for a petition under the people’s initiative clause but in support of a Constituent Assembly mode, hence the word “petition” is erroneous.
3. The fourth paragraph reads: The number of alleged signatures on the petition was 0.93 percent of the country’s estimated 60 million voters and a far cry from the 7.2 million verified signatures, or 12 percent of total registered voters, required by law for a people’s initiative to even be considered by Congress. Correction: Again, the article misrepresents the signatures that were submitted to Congress. May I state again for the record that we are not submitting the signatures for purposes of a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution. The signatures are meant to show to Congress that there is growing public support in 72 provinces across the country where the DILG held its roadshows and other activities.
Moreover, the article also misrepresents the people’s initiative mode. Under the Constitution, a petition for people’s initiative is a direct mode of initiating amendments to the Constitution, bypassing Congress altogether. If we were to submit a petition, it would be to the Commission on Elections which shall verify the signatures, and never to Congress as the article suggests.
I hope that the above clarifications would merit equal space in your newspaper in order to correct the misimpression the story has made. We at the DILG know our law and procedures in amending the fundamental law of the land.
We hope you will give this matter your preferential attention. Thank you.
JONATHAN E. MALAYA, undersecretary, DILG, executive director, Inter-Agency Task Force on Constitutional Reform
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