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Bato: Solons said Romualdez ordered PI signature campaign; Speaker denies

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Monday said that a congressmember told him Speaker Martin Romualdez ordered his colleagues to facilitate the push for a people’s initiative in a bid to amend the 1987 Constitution. Romualdez denies this.

Dela Rosa made the claim as he expressed opposition to the ongoing signature campaign, which supposedly asked voters if they were in favor of amending Article 17, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution to allow all members of Congress to jointly vote on proposed constitutional amendments in a constituent assembly.

For Dela Rosa, those who pushed for this amendment are only considering their self-interest, but added that they cannot be blamed if there were orders from the House leadership.

“Mahirap na ha kasi kung komprontahin mo rin sila, sabihin nila sayo na, 'Boss, pasensya ka na, just following orders lang kami. May orders ang aming speaker. So sunod lang kami sa order,'’’ Dela Rosa said in a press conference.

(It's hard because when you confront them they will tell you, 'Boss, sorry about that, we're just following orders. Our speaker has orders. So we're just following orders.')

“So, following orders lang daw sila. So, mahirap din na sisihin mo sila pero kung tutuusin pwede talaga sisihin. Bakit ba por que orders, sunod ka lang nang sunod? Makikinabang ka rin siguro d’yan sa order na yan bakit ka sumunod,” he added.

(So they say they're just following orders. So it's hard to blame them but in truth you can blame them. Why, are you just going to keep following orders? You're probably benefiting from those orders, that's why you're obeying them.)

Asked if the orders are from Romualdez, Dela Rosa said, “Yun ang sabi sa akin ng congressman e. Di ko na sasabihin kung sino baka mamaya magalit sa kanya, pagalitan sya.”

(That's what the congressman told me. I won't say who because someone might get mad at them and reprimand them.)

Further, Dela Rosa divulged that constituents in Davao City were offered P100 to P3,000 in exchange of their signatures for the people’s initiative efforts.

“Merong nag-iisyu sa Davao City, pipirma sila, inisyuhan sila ng claim stub. Pirma, claim stub, siguro para sa TUPAD [Tulong Panghanapbuhay Sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers] or sa AICS [Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations],” Dela Rosa said, referring to social aids of the government.

(In Davao City they sign, they're issued claim stubs, probably for TUPAD or AICS.)

“Tanungin niyo kung sino ang mga congressman sa Davao except Congressman Pulong [Duterte], ‘di sila kasama d’yan. Tanungin niyo kung sino congressman ang nagpapaikot don,” he said.

(Ask the congresspeople in Davao except for Congressman Pulong, he's not part of it. Ask them which congressmen are making it happen.)

'No orders'

In an ambush interview later on Monday, Romualdez was asked to comment on Dela Rosa’s remarks.

The House top leader explicitly said, “No orders.”

“I don't know what Senator Bato is talking about,” he added.

In December, Romualdez said the House was keen on launching a people’s referendum to determine how the House and the Senate should vote on proposals amending the 1987 Constitution.

“We will highly recommend that we embark on a people-centered initiative to cure this impasse, so to speak, on how we vote. And I hope that we can undertake this as soon as possible so we could have some clarity on the procedures. We'd like to have that [procedural problem] resolved by and through a people's initiative,” he said.

He also urged local governments to support the initiative to amend the Constitution. “Both the Congress and the LGU will be working together for the betterment of the Filipino people by introducing a new Constitution,” he said.

Last week, House Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo said that Romualdez gave no instructions about pushing such a campaign.

Congress TV

Also on Monday, the Speaker vowed a House committed to transparency and open to scrutiny during the launch of Congress TV, a channel for House proceedings which will air over state-run network PTV-4.

“In an age where information is both a tool and a weapon, the onus is on us, the elected representatives of the people, to ensure that the power of information is harnessed to empower, educate, and engage. It is with immense pride and a profound sense of duty that we, in collaboration with PTV-4, unveil Congress TV,” Romualdez said.

“This initiative is not just a channel; it's a bridge. A bridge that connects the hallowed halls of the House of Representatives to every home, every school, and every Filipino. It's a bridge built on the pillars of transparency, accountability, and inclusivity,” he added.


Former president Rodrigo Duterte has criticized the alleged payoffs in exchange for signatures in the people's initiative campaign to amend the 1987 Constitution.

According to a report on "24 Oras," Duterte called the alleged payments "repugnant, a disgraceful act."

"If you start to amend a Constitution and you start by buying the signatures of the Filipinos to start the process... it does not only leave a bad taste in the mouth actually," Duterte said in an interview on a social media account

"It's almost repugnant, a disgraceful act. So hindi ako pabor kung ganun. Hintuin na lang nila," he added.

(So I'm not in favor if that's the case. They should just stop.)

The former President said there is widespread bribery in Davao City to railroad Charter change and extend the stay in power of incumbent officials.

"It will just destroy the nation. It will open the floodgate of political abuses [and] the perpetration of powers, kung sino ngayon gusto nilang tumuloy, tumuloy."

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva called on the public to report the incidents of alleged bribery in the signature gathering for charter change (Cha-cha).

The Senate leader released the statement exactly a week after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri revealed that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. himself bucked efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution through people's initiative.

Senator Imee Marcos had filed a resolution seeking a Senate probe into the alleged Cha-cha-related bribery.

Meanwhile, Zubiri and two other senators had filed a Resolution of Both Houses which proposes amendments to certain economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, including reforms in the Public Services Act, education, and advertising industry by adding the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law."

Last week, Zubiri said Marcos had asked the Senate to take the lead in reviewing the economic provisions of the Constitution—a request which is contrary to the Senate president's earlier stand that cha-cha is not a priority of the upper chamber. — BM/NB, GMA Integrated News