Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Taytay in the central Philippine province of Palawan has called on the faithful to reject a signature campaign advocating for Charter change.
In a statement issued on Jan. 11, the prelate urged the public “not to sign” because “this is not an initiative of the people but of some politicians”.
Pabillo issued the statement in response to reports of payouts in exchange for signatures on a petition for Charter change through people’s initiative.
According to CBCPNews, Pabillo was the first bishop to openly speak against the recent attempts at constitutional change.
Proponents of Charter change in Congress assert that the proposed amendments would exclusively target the economic provisions of the Constitution, which currently impose restrictions on the inflow of foreign capital into the country.
Charter change can be pursued through Congress, a constitutional convention, or a people’s initiative with a petition signed by at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voters.
Each legislative district must be represented by a minimum of 3 percent of registered voters, with over 67 million currently registered voters in the Philippines.
Accumulating sufficient signatures would essentially compel the 24-member Senate to vote collectively with the 315-member Lower House.
On Jan. 29, 2018, the bishops’ conference released the “Pastoral Guidelines for Discerning the Moral Dimension of the Present-day Moves for Charter Change.”
It read: “(O)ur moral stand was and remains consistent, namely: Amending the fundamental law of the land, so carefully crafted for the common good after years of dictatorship, requires widespread peoples’ participation and consultation, unity of vision, transparency, and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate.”