Metro Manila, Philippines — Senator Imee Marcos revealed receiving a detailed timeline about the alleged plan to push to amend the 1987 Constitution, which even included the specific date when the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will prepare for a plebiscite.
Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday, Marcos said she initially received an unknown text before Christmas Day detailing a timeline for “Project PI.”
“It was fairly detailed, Project PI ang tawag. Timeline, major activities 15 December to 3 January prepare petition, print proposition, signature sheets. Detalyado sya hanggang darating sa February, pag dumating sa February 12 hanggang sa 10 March verify signatures, 11 March and so on,” she said.
[Translation: It was fairly detailed, it’s called Project PI. Timeline, major activities on 15 December to 3 January to prepare petition, print proposition, signature sheets. It’s detailed even up to February, on February 12 until 10 March verify signatures, 11 March and so on.]
Marcos said the timeline even included exact dates for Comelec en banc sessions and that the poll body will start preparing for a plebiscite on April 9. The supposed plebiscite was scheduled on June 17, which would be certified by and approved by Comelec on July 8.
Based on information it gathered, Kabataan Party-list said it discovered a similar timeline, specifically on the conduct of plebiscite on June 17 and the certification of the approval of the proposal by majority of votes cast on July 8.
Marcos said she received another text from a source in Congress after New Year’s Day, alleging that every district congressman and major city mayors were being given at least ₱20 million in exchange for 20,000 signatures to be turned over by Jan. 13.
Marcos has filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry into the alleged bribery involved in the signature drive. She earlier claimed that around ₱20 million was being offered to local leaders to collect signatures needed to push for charter change via people’s initiative. This is to support a new Constitutional provision that would allow the House and Senate to vote jointly, instead of separately, in amending the Constitution.
Former Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. told CNN Philippines on Wednesday that municipal mayors in the province of Albay had started collecting signatures from residents, but denied the vote-buying allegation.
Marcos said senators are agitated with what is happening, noting that the upper house will be disadvantaged if lawmakers will be voting jointly since they are only 24 compared to more than 300 congressmen.
She also called the move absurd given the more urgent matters the government needs to address.
While they have not discussed the matter, Marcos said her brother, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is also not keen on cha-cha for now.
The senator also criticized the addition of almost ₱14 billion under the 2024 budget of the Comelec, calling it “cash-unduan.” As chairman of the committee on electoral reforms, Marcos said she only knew about the poll body’s request for additional funding to build its offices and increase salaries of its workers.
“Wala namang binabanggit na charter change (There was no mention of charter change),” she said. “I’m really puzzled because I wasn’t privy to the bicam. Truth be told, I haven’t been attending the bicam because they are like two-minute photo ops, there’s no real debate conducted.”