Salceda asks: Why are senators afraid of people's initiative?

Salceda asks: Why are senators afraid of people’s initiative?

/ 04:50 PM January 29, 2024

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda remains confused why senators and some sectors fear a people’s initiative (PI), noting among the petitioners and signatories are credible individuals and long-time Charter change (Cha-cha) advocates.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda at Kapihan sa Manila Bay. INQUIRER PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda remains confused why senators and some sectors fear a people’s initiative (PI), noting among the petitioners and signatories are credible individuals and long-time Charter change (Cha-cha) advocates.

Salceda on Monday said that critics of the PI have always questioned who is behind the campaign, but initiators of the PI — the People’s Initiative for Reform Modernization and Action (Pirma) — have long advocated for changes in the 1987 Constitution.


“Allow me to emphasize this. So far, the arguments of opponents have centered on who is backing the people’s initiative. Credible lawyers and economists, backed by long-time advocates for Charter change, are named as petitioners,” Salceda said in a statement after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) stopped all proceedings related to the PI.


“But this does not satisfy opponents who insinuate that members of the House are behind the proposal,” he added.

Salceda also asked why it has been a big deal if some lawmakers are allegedly involved in the PI when the 1987 Constitution — which provides this mode of amending the charter — does not distinguish between citizens and politicians.

“All of this is beside the point. RA 6735 — which I helped draft as Chief-of-Staff of then Rep. Raul Roco, its principal author — and its rules do not distinguish elected politicians from regular voters. Anybody can launch a people’s initiative. As long as it meets the established requirements of form and procedure, the Comelec should allow it,” Salceda said.

“The Supreme Court has tended to liberally construe popular action, so I would caution Comelec about this decision, as it will likely not stand in court.  In Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority vs. Commission on Elections, the Supreme Court stated that ‘provisions for initiative… are (to be) liberally construed to effectuate their purposes, to facilitate and not hamper the exercise by the voters of the rights granted thereby.’” he added.

Salceda maintained that there is no need to fear the PI because the Constitution created by the people can be altered by the people.

“I want to belabor this point: Why are we so afraid of the people who elected us?  It’s NOT the Senate’s constitution, or the House’s constitution for that matter.  It is a Constitution ordained by ‘We, the People’.  The People get to decide what they want in their Constitution,” he noted.


Earlier, Salceda disagreed with Comelec’s decision to stop proceedings related to the PI, saying that the poll body does not have the power to stop an act of the people unilaterally.

Talks about PI started after House leaders Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. floated last December 2023 the possibility of discussing charter change proposals anew, with the goal of amending the 1987 Constitution’s economic provisions.

However, Gonzales said that they may entertain PI proposals since the Senate has failed to act on RBH No. 6 — originally a resolution of the House calling for a constitutional convention, which was passed last March 2023.

READ: Senate manifesto nixes people’s initiative, warns of no-el scenario 

Several senators, including Senator Imee Marcos, also accused her cousin, Speaker Romualdez, as the person behind the push for a PI.  But House leaders have denied backing the PI, saying that they only respect the call of the people.

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Romualdez himself said that they would support the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 filed by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, calling it a welcome development and a possible answer to the prayers of PI backers.

TAGS: Joey Salceda, People's Initiative, senators

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