Signature campaign for chacha suspended amid anomalies
The Commission on Elections suspended indefinitely last January 29 the process of receiving signatures from the People’s Initiative for Reform Modernization and Action (Pirma) to amend the 1987 constitution (chacha or charter change). This contradicts the commission’s earlier statement that it only “receives” signatures. It now claims it needs to reexamine the rules governing such an initiative.
Nevertheless, it already received seven million signatures which were very hastily gathered from 209 districts. According to the rules of the people’s initiative, only 11.4 million signatures or 12% of the 91.9 million registered voters are needed to propel such a scheme.
Signature collection was halted amid widespread opposition by various sectors. At the onset, the use of public funds for signature gathering was exposed. It was widely exposed that signatures were gathered in exchange for ₱100 or worse, aid from various state agencies.
A Senate hearing on January 30 exposed the collusion of Pirma, the group that paid advertisements promoting chacha, and House Speaker Martin Romualdez and other congressmen, to gather signatures. Ferdinand Marcos Jr inadvertently admitted his direct hand in the signature scheme by stating he wants “other options” to advance chacha.
Despite the suspension, the “bawi-pirma” (withdraw-signature) campaign started by Bayan Muna on January 28 will proceed. Many signatories expressed their desire to withdraw their signatures upon learning it was for charter change. They said, if not supposedly for aid, another reason was cited to entice them to sign.
Today, democratic groups continue to expand opposition to chacha. This is amid the Marcos regime’s attempt to pass the Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 focused on changing the provisions regarding the economy. The groups strongly oppose it as it would allow foreigners full ownership of Filipino businesses, resources and land.
On January 21, national democratic groups protested before Congress to condemn chacha. This was timed on the first day of Congress’ session. They also protested before the Senate on February 5, in time with its first hearing on RBH6.
In Davao City, progressive groups denounced the launch of the Duterte family’s “grand rally” that masqueraded as anti-chacha. They said Rodrigo Duterte of all people “has no credibility” since he also contrived a similar scheme while he was president.