�� Salceda: Focus on Cha-cha debates after PI ruling | Inquirer News

Salceda: Focus on Cha-cha debates as PI signatures repeal okayed

/ 02:45 PM February 16, 2024

PHOTO: Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda STORY: Salceda: Focus on Cha-cha debates as PI signatures repeal okayed

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda hopes that more focus will now be given to Charter change (Cha-cha) debates following the poll body’s decision to allow the withdrawal of signatures for the people’s initiative to amend the Constitution. (INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda expressed hope that the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow the withdrawal of signatures for the people’s initiative (PI) to amend the 1987 Constitution would allow more focus on Charter change debates.

“The withdrawal is up to the proponents and accepting it is up to the Comelec. [There is not much else] to comment as far as procedure is concerned – all of that is in order. Both the initiative and the withdrawal are [by] the law,” Salceda explained in a statement sent to reporters.

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“Now, hopefully, we can focus on a discussion of Charter change based on the merits alone. At least now, questions of motive or origin of the People’s Initiative can no longer be used as an excuse or distraction from the simple truth that we need to open up,” he added.

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It would also be good, Salceda said, if developments on the people’s initiative would speed up the Senate’s discussions on economic amendments to the Constitution.

“If it speeds up the Senate’s discussions on Charter Change, then it’s all well and good,” he said.

READ: Comelec OKs ‘withdrawal form’ to void Cha-cha petition signatures

On Thursday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced that it has approved the “withdrawal form” for people who wish to take back their signatures from the PI petition for Charter change.

In a memorandum dated February 14 but released to the media a day later, the Comelec said the forms must be made available to the public.

“Please be informed that during the Referendum/Consultation on 14 February 2024, the Commission resolved to approve the hereto attached and forming an integral part hereof, Withdrawal Form for Signatures in the Signature Sheets submitted for Petition for People’s Initiative,” states the poll body’s memo.

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The document also said that election officers must distribute the withdrawal form, as it should be available in their offices, where the accomplished forms should likewise be submitted or returned.

Among the details asked for in the withdrawal form are the person’s name, address, precinct number, and reason for taking back their signature from the people’s initiative petition to amend the Constitution.

The House leadership has been vocal in their call to revise the Constitution’s economic provisions, appealing that the Senate finish its discussions on Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6 by March – conforming to the initial timeline provided by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

However, Zubiri recently said that the Senate would not be pressured by a deadline, with Sen. Sonny Angara, who heads the subcommittee tackling RBH No. 6, saying they might hold discussions until October this year.

The House, meanwhile, said it was not rushing the Senate, as it was merely basing it on Zubiri’s timetable – that the upper chamber could adopt RBH No. 6 by next month.

Salceda, who had given updates about the people’s initiative before Comelec suspended the proceedings, said he would rather see the people’s initiatve prosper, but he accepted the fact that the House was merely a supporter of such campaigns.

Comelec suspended the proceedings for the PI in January, citing the need to review its process for the initiative.

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“I would have gone all the way with the People’s Initiative – down to its logical conclusion. But the House is merely a supporter, not the initiator of the effort. So, the proponents will have their way,” he noted.

TAGS: charter change, Joey Salceda, People's Initiative

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