Marcos Appeals to House to Halt People’s Initiative – Zubiri

‘Marooned’ Senators wear maroon armbands to show their opposition to attempts to amend the Constitution via people’s initiative on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. SENATE PHOTO
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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to appeal to the House of Representatives to put a stop to the people’s initiative (PI), according to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. Zubiri received a text message from the President’s office inviting him to a lunch meeting in Malacañang before Marcos’ departure for a state visit to Vietnam. Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin also joined the discussion.

Zubiri, in a privilege speech, revealed that President Marcos expressed concern over the escalating situation, stating, “It is getting out of hand.” The Senate, in solidarity, protested the flawed initiative for Charter change (Cha-cha) by wearing maroon armbands. Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito explained that the protest was to show unity against the people’s initiative for several reasons.

Senate Secretary Renato Bantug Jr. clarified that the armband initiative was organized by the employees as a demonstration of support for the institution. Maroon, the color of the Senate flag and the senators’ impeachment trial robes, was chosen as a symbol of unity.

Zubiri emphasized that the Senate has consistently opposed the people’s initiative, believing it would divide the nation and jeopardize economic progress. He stated, “In no uncertain terms, the President expressed the need to protect the bicameral nature of Congress, which upholds the system of checks and balances within the legislative branch and strengthens the check and balance between the different branches of government.”

President Marcos, having served as a former senator, understands the importance of bicameralism. He recognizes that even a simple street name change requires Senate approval, highlighting the Senate’s indispensable role in Charter change.

The senators expressed gratitude to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for acknowledging the insufficiency of their rules regarding the people’s initiative and committing to review them. The Comelec has issued an en banc decision to suspend all proceedings related to the people’s initiative.

Senator Mary Grace Poe commended the Comelec for halting the questionable Cha-cha signature campaign. She hopes that the Comelec’s order will put an end to the signature drive and allow attention to be focused on the urgent needs of the Filipino people. Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay also welcomed the decision, stating that it demonstrates the commitment of government officials to respect the Constitution and defend democracy against any attempts to subvert it.

The Senate is urging the House to adhere to the Constitution and respect the intent of its framers. The senators reminded the congressmen that the Constitution is not meant to expand their powers as elected officials. On the contrary, it serves as a limit on the exercise of these powers, protecting the people’s rights and promoting their common welfare.

House leaders have assured the senators that they are not seeking to abolish the Senate through their push for Charter change. Rizal 1st District Representative Jack Duavit, head of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) bloc, conveyed this assurance to the Senate.

In conclusion, President Marcos Jr.’s appeal to the House of Representatives to halt the people’s initiative reflects his concern for the preservation of the bicameral nature of Congress and the need to protect the system of checks and balances. The Senate’s protest and the Comelec’s decision to suspend proceedings on the people’s initiative demonstrate the commitment of government officials to uphold the Constitution and defend democracy. The Senate reminds the House to respect the limitations imposed by the Constitution, which aim to safeguard the rights and welfare of the Filipino people.

Source: The Manila Times

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