CAREFUL discernment is required before signing on to the people’s initiative to amend the 1987 constitution as some politicians use deceptive means to manipulate the public, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) warned.

In a strongly worded statement signed by CBCP President Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, the conference lamented the questionable intentions behind the signature campaign. 

“It seems that this people’s initiative was initiated by a few public servants and not truly from the initiative of ordinary citizens,” the CBCP said on Tuesday, Jan. 31. “If that is the case, it involves deception and disregard for our true and free participation in the democratic process of our country.”

Recent moves by the House of Representatives to amend economic provisions of the charter via people’s initiative drew flak after revelations that proponents allegedly paid money to collect signatures from voters.

The Constitution has raised a high bar for an initiative to succeed: The petition must be signed by 12 percent of the total number of voters, wherein every single legislative district must be represented by at least three percent of their voters, according to Article XVII, Sec. 2.

The CBCP agreed that the people’s initiative lacked sufficient basis. 

“Some experts have already pointed out that addressing economic concerns can be done without amending the current Constitution,” the statement read. “Many economists and sociologists point out that our Constitution is not the real hindrance to our progress.”

Filipinos, the conference said, must be cautious in signing any petition that may eventually “exploit” the country.

“Our prayer is that we will not sign or agree to any petition without careful discernment, discussion, and prayer,” the CBCP asserted. “Let us not allow such deceptive systems to continue, encouraging those who continuously exploit our nation. Truly, this is not good!”

Several prelates earlier issued statements denouncing the motives of people’s initiative.

Sabihin sa mga tao na huwag pumirma!” Apostolic Vicar of Taytay Broderick Pabillo said in a statement on Jan. 11. “Hindi ito inisyatiba na galing sa mga tao kundi ng ilang mga politico.

Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy and Talibon Bishop Patrick Daniel Parcon went further and mocked the move as “piso initiative.

“It is not bad to consult the people through a genuine people’s initiative,” they said in a joint statement written in Bisaya on Jan. 24. “But there is no clear understanding about what is to be changed in the law. And why must there be payments?”

“Even some senators and congressmen are filled with doubt, that instead of calling it ‘people’s initiative,’ it is just mockingly called ‘piso initiative,’” they added.


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