Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, on Monday, denied a Philippine Daily Inquirer report that the agency was collecting two million signatures to push a charter change or constitutional amendments amid the COVID-19 crisis in the country.
“That is fake news, and I don’t want people to pay attention to that. That’s totally false, and we have never done anything like that, especially during this time of crisis,” Año told ANC.
“The coronavirus crisis is not stopping the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from pushing Charter change (Cha-cha) and it has directed its regional offices and supporters to continue gathering up to 2 million signatures over the next two months to back amendments to the Constitution, the Inquirer has learned,” the report said which was published online on May 17.
“From the physical signature campaign, the drive to support what the DILG calls constitutional reform (CORE) has gone online to meet a July deadline while adapting to conditions created by the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to a senior official and documents obtained by the Inquirer,” the report added.
Inquirer said Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya issued a memorandum dated January 28 to collect two million signatures nationwide that would be presented to both houses of Congress “to inform them of the support we have gathered for the CORE from the regions.”
The PDI also said that Malaya told in a phone interview on Saturday “that [constitutional reform] is a core program of the department, but it has to go on a backburner together with all other programs of the DILG not related to COVID-19.”
“We will continue to pursue that (CORE) after COVID,” Malaya added, who is also the DILG Spokesperson.
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But on the third memo issued May 11, Inquirer said Malaya told the DILG regional directors and civil society organizations accredited by the Center for Federalism and Constitutional Reform that only “the physical conduct of CORE signature campaign” would be postponed.
“In this regard, we would like to encourage all the regions and civil society organizations to utilize our CORE website for the online signature campaign. The use of this accessible and reliable online platform will eventually help in promoting the campaign as well as gather signatures with more people at home,” the memorandum read.
“The said online signatures will also add up to the number of collected signatures in the regions and civil society organizations, completing the target of 2 million signatures in July.”
“What will our staff do if we don’t proceed with our PPAs at least online?” Malaya said in an interview with Inquirer.