Bishops warn vs bribery, deception in Cha-cha drive | Inquirer News

Bishops warn vs bribery, deception in Cha-cha drive

By: - Correspondent / @leoudtohanINQ
/ 05:52 AM January 26, 2024

Bishop Alberto Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran (Contributed)

Bishop Alberto Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran (Contributed)

TAGBILARAN CITY — Bishops of the two dioceses in Bohol province have called on Catholics to reject a signature campaign to amend the 1987 Constitution, saying it has been tainted by bribery and deception.

In a joint pastoral letter dated Jan. 24, Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy and Talibon Bishop Patrick Daniel Parcon warned people against accepting money or believing in promises of government aid in exchange for a “people’s initiative” on Charter change (Cha-cha).


“We, your bishops and priests, call on all Filipino faithful: Do not sell your signature for mere money. Future generations will hold us accountable if we get deceived,” they said.


READ: Marcos separately meets House, Senate amid Cha-cha debates

The prelates also noted that there were no discussions of the proposed amendments, and the people’s initiative forms were written in English and not easily understood by those in their dioceses.

“It is not bad to consult the people through a genuine people’s initiative. But there is no clear explanation of what the law will change. And why pay?” they said.

‘Piso initiative’

“Even other senators and congressmen are full of suspicion that instead of being called ‘people’s initiative,’ it is being called ‘piso initiative,’” Uy and Parcon added. Lawyer Neri Colmenares, Bayan Muna chair and Cha-cha critic, urged community leaders to file cases in courts against those behind the signature drive which public funds were allegedly financing.

“The Senate and other oppositors should question … the use of public funds in the gathering of signatures, the authenticity of signatures and the initiative process itself because this (people’s initiative) is not a mere amendment but essentially a revision of the Constitution,” he said.

READ: Senate, House clash over people’s initiative for Charter change

He was referencing the Supreme Court ruling in “Lambino vs. Commission on Elections,” which prohibits a constitutional revision through people’s initiative. Only constitutional amendments are allowed via people’s initiative.

Colmenares argued that the entire campaign would fail if those opposed could invalidate a people’s initiative petition in a single district or at least get a temporary restraining order. But former lawmaker and people’s initiative proponent Alfredo Garbin said they were ready for legal challenges to their Cha-cha drive.


On Thursday, Garbin criticized as “fear-mongering” claims that the people’s initiative would lead to the removal of term limits, foreigners grabbing land, and even the scrapping of elections.

“To set the record straight, the people’s initiative only wishes to make proposals to change the constitution easier and should not be seen as directly changing the constitution,” he said.

His statement comes amid a tense standoff between the Senate and House regarding the potential formation of a constituent assembly (con-ass) to vote on amendments. The 24-member Senate, historically wary of a con-ass, fears that the 310-strong House would drown out its voice.

Garbin also cautioned senators, who have described the signature drive as a “deceitful scheme,” that they were elected “by the wisdom of the people … and it should be with this same wisdom that they should act.”

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“Everyone must be reminded that democracy, stripped of legalese, is simply the rule of the majority, the rule of the greater good. Why should the rest of the country bow down and live by the will of 24 persons?” he added.

TAGS: bishops, Cha-cha

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