Insist amending eco provisions is the priority

Rep. Jude Acidre

TACLOBAN CITY—The People’s Initiative is not merely a capricious decision of members of the House of Representatives but a constitutionally established mechanism for amending the Charter, asserted Rep. Jude Acidre of the Tingog party-list group.

Acidre, speaking at a local media gathering held on Saturday (Feb.17), defended the Lower House’s initiative to gather signatures as a legitimate method to amend the 1987 Constitution via the People’s Initiative.

He expressed surprise at how certain groups, particularly senators, have criticized and even ‘demonized’ the process, despite it being recognized as one of the avenues for amending the country’s Constitution.

“People’s Initiative is a perfectly legitimate constitutional provision for amending the Constitution, and it’s unfortunate that some groups are attempting to demonize the process,” remarked Acidre, whose party-list group is led by Rep. Yedda Romualdez, the wife of Leyte congressman and Speaker Martin Romualdez.

The Speaker is believed to be the primary advocate of the People’s Initiative, which is one of the three modes for amending the Constitution.

The other avenues, according to Acidre, include the constituent assembly and constitutional convention, both of which were previously proposed by the Lower House but promptly rejected by the Senate.

Addressing concerns about the use of money during the signature-gathering process, Acidre stated, “In any undertaking, there is a presumption of regularity, although I cannot guarantee 100 percent authenticity of the signatures.”

He suggested that the gathered signatures could be verified during a process to be conducted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“Even if 10 signatures were bought, would that invalidate the entire process? That would be unjust,” Acidre emphasized.

The solon also dismissed claims that various government programs such as AICS (Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and TUPAD (Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) are being used during the signature campaign.

Asked whether they would focus solely on amending the economic provisions of the Constitution, Acidre affirmed, “We have stated that we will only concentrate on amending the economic provisions, and the President has also made the same commitment,” noting that these are the current priorities.

“There are various areas for political amendments; for instance, I personally advocate for expanding the Senate membership by electing members by region. However, this can be addressed at another time because the primary concern now is economic amendment,” he explained.

Acidre acknowledged that there appears to be a ‘trust issue’ regarding this Charter Change, largely because it has never been attempted in the country before.

“There is a trust issue in the entire process because this has never been done,” he acknowledged.