Metro Manila, Philippines– Senator Imee Marcos believes the office of House Speaker Martin Romualdez is behind the funding and timeline planning of the people’s initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Asked by reporters in a Friday press conference if she was convinced Romualdez was behind the signature campaign, she said: “Definitely, yung opisina niya yung nag-alok ng ₱20 million kada distrito, definitely nanggaling sa kanila yung very attenuated timeline na July 9 tapos na ang lahat.”

[Translation: His office is the one that provided ₱20 million for each district, it also came up with the timeline which sought to conclude the initiative by July 9.

“So definitely, that derived from his office with very clear numbers identifying the staff members and attorneys involved,” she added.

Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa earlier said he had information linking the House Speaker to the signature drive.

Romualdez has denied involvement.

Distrust in Congress

“I will have to admit that there’s a very serious trust issue given that the Senate obediently drafted and signed the Resolution [of Both Houses] 6 with a clear understanding that the efforts to collate signatures for a PI with the form already issued would be stopped pero hindi naman nahinto, tinuloy-tuloy pa [It wasn’t stopped, it kept going],” Marcos disclosed.

Romualdez and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and came to an agreement that the upper chamber would lead the review of the charter’s economic provisions through a constituent assembly at the president’s request.

Despite this, the signature campaign for a people’s initiative pushed on, with one lawmaker claiming that the threshold to introduce amendments to the charter had been reached by late January.

In a written manifesto, all 24 Senators rejected the people’s initiative, describing it as a “sinister” and attempt to undermine the upper chamber through a joint vote between both houses of Congress, rendering the Senate outnumbered by the 316-strong House.

But, on Thursday night, Romualdez wrote a letter expressing his chamber’s “full support” for the Senate’s push to amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution through RBH 6.

However, Romualdez wrote that the House had pledged to support an alternative people’s initiative led by the Senate to amend the economic provisions of the charter, seemingly contradicting the constituent assembly proposed in the upper chamber’s RBH 6.

“Ngayon may bagong sulat na ako mismo hindi masyadong naintindihan, hindi ko alam kung saan tayo patungo,” Marcos admitted. She even described the letter as incomprehensible.

[Translation: Now that there is a new letter which I do not understand, I do not know where this is going.]

‘Prove it’

Just hours after Marcos made her accusation, Romualdez responded: “Nagmamarites siguro, nakikinig sa mga marites [She’s spreading rumors or listening to those spreading rumors]. I’d like her to prove it and she has the proper means and ways she can go through whatever court or agency, the Comelec, let her prove it.”

He clapped back at the Senate and said it was spreading “toxic and caustic” rhetoric.

“We would like to suggest the leadership to exercise what we call parliamentary courtesy and that they behave more properly,” Romualdez told reporters at a press conference. “We do not dignify statements that are cause to instigate debates that are very divisive.”

He added that he did not regularly get to speak to Marcos, his first cousin, and that he did not see her over the holidays so he does not know where her claims are coming from.

“We will embrace their RBH once they pass it. We will expeditiously consider it, if not adopt it immediately. If they want to pursue or inspire another PI we will support the same” he added.