The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has made the decision to halt all proceedings related to the contentious move to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative (PI). This decision comes in response to concerns raised about the initiative that are not covered by Comelec Resolution 10650, which outlines the rules and regulations for conducting a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution.
Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia announced that all local election officers in cities and municipalities have been instructed to stop accepting signature sheets. However, any signature pages that have already been accepted will remain in local Comelec offices.
The suspension of proceedings is indefinite and will continue until the Commission is able to develop credible, properly reviewed, revised, and enhanced rules for the people’s initiative. To ensure a thorough review, a panel has been created to assess the existing rules and make necessary improvements.
Garcia emphasized that this decision is an act of due diligence on the part of the Comelec en banc. It is essential to address issues such as rules on withdrawals, opposition, nomination, and the distinction between amendment and revision. By reviewing, enhancing, and adding to the implementing rules and regulations, the Commission aims to provide clarity and address the concerns surrounding the people’s initiative.
Regarding the signatures already obtained, Garcia clarified that they currently hold no value. However, signatories will have the opportunity to withdraw their support once the Comelec has formally assumed jurisdiction, which occurs after a formal petition has been filed with the Commission. Those wishing to withdraw their signatures can do so by visiting their local Comelec office.
According to Comelec records, 209 out of the total 254 legislative districts have submitted signature forms, amounting to approximately 7 million signatures. The existing rules require the PI signature campaign to obtain 3 percent of all registered voters in all 254 legislative districts and 12 percent of voters nationwide. Failure to reach the required 3 percent threshold in a particular district will result in the automatic dismissal of a petition filed before the Comelec.
The decision to suspend proceedings reflects the Commission’s commitment to ensuring a fair and transparent process for amending the Constitution through a people’s initiative. By addressing the concerns raised and enhancing the rules and regulations, the Comelec aims to provide a solid framework for future initiatives and maintain the integrity of the constitutional amendment process.
It is important to note that this decision by the Comelec is specific to the Philippines and its legal framework. Each country has its own laws and regulations governing constitutional amendments, and it is crucial to understand the local context when discussing such matters. The suspension of proceedings highlights the Commission’s dedication to upholding the principles of democracy and ensuring that any constitutional changes are carried out in a manner that reflects the will of the people.
Source: The Manila Times