May 23, 2024

The utterance of the words “putang ina mo” is a common enough expression in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander but rather to express anger or displeasure. It is seldom, if ever, taken in its literal sense by the hearer, that is, as a reflection on the virtues of a mother. (Reyes vs. People, G.R. nos. L-21528 and L-21529).
It is similar to the Iloko “okkinam”, Kapampangan “tak nay da na” or Visayan “bilat ti baya”, American “son of a bitch (SOB)”, Spanish “hijo de puta” or Japan’s “bakero.”
The minds of Filipinos who are instinctively using P.I. as part of their language are not criminal.
Though this piece is not about that kind of P.I., Pres. Bongbong Marcos has directed and Senate President Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Martin Romualdez to file a joint resolution to convene both Houses into a constituent assembly to rewrite portions of the 1987 Constitution with amendments focused on economic provisions to attract foreign investments.
This was a way to stop the uproar created by the P.I. or People’s Initiative started in December 2023 by the Speaker himself, says Sen. Imee Marcos. Voters were allegedly being given P100 each (cheap, sana all) if they sign a petition to revise the constitutional provision that directs the chambers of Congress to vote separately when modifying the charter. Of course, if the House and Senate vote as one, overwhelmingly the House wins.
People’s initiative – described as the “power of the people” – is provided for by the 1987 Constitution and its process is laid down in Republic Act 6735 or “The Initiative and Referendum Act.”
The law says the public can propose constitutional amendments through a people’s initiative by lodging a petition signed by at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voters. Each legislative district must also be represented by at three percent of registered voters. With the millions registered voters, you can do the math what it would take.
PI is next to impossible due to the challenging task of getting the required number of signatures. It must be verified by the Commission on Elections, published twice in newspapers., and subject to a referendum, to decide whether or not they approve of the proposal. It should be voted favorably by the majority of voters for it to be enacted.
This is no longer new. In 2006, PI was to adopt a unicameral-parliamentary system of government. The Supreme Court later ruled that the amendment was not “directly proposed by the people” because the draft of the proposed amendment had already been prepared when signatures were gathered and it was not shown that the people who signed had actually seen the petition in full and knew what they were signing (Lambino v. Comelec).
During the Ramos administration, PI stood for term extensions but failed at the SC. Even the late former Pres. Noynoy Aquino, amid the tension with the judiciary, manifested his interest to charter change. Former President Rodrigo Duterte made constitutional change towards a federal form of government, a campaign promise but eventually acknowledged that there was no appetite for it among Filipinos.
Sen. Robin Padilla fought tooth and nail to become chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments to re-push federalism. The irony of it is that he was bypassed, as the Senate leadership found it necessary that a lawyer should head the discussions, medyo tama rin, designating Sonny Angara as sub-committee chair.
Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada launched the Constitutional Correction for Development, pushing for relaxing restrictions on foreign ownership. Like his term, it was short-lived because of widespread opposition to it.
In all these exercises, Juan de la Cruz had a nagging suspicion that it was all about term extension. Thus, the problem here is even if they say that it will be focused on economic provisions, nothing can prevent the solons from inserting term extensions (shades of the 1973 Con-Con scandal) or changing the succession rules in case the President becomes incapacitated or resigns….short cut to the presidency.
Then the real P.I. is becoming sigh.