People's initiative genuine, says Mangaoang mayor
by Peter A. Balocnit
TABUK, Kalinga (9 October) -- Kalinga Mayors League President and Balbalan Mayor Allen Jesse Mangaoang asserted the legitimacy of the people's initiative as a grassroot-driven movement that has won the support of most voters here with 21% of the electorates favoring the move.
Mangaoang said the people's initiative of changing the constitution conducted in the province is genuine. All signatures gathered from the eight municipalities of Kalinga were verified by the Provincial Office of the Commission on Election, he said.
As to the involvement of local executives, Mangaoang said it is the mayor that initiates move on issues of public concern and takes the lead in informing people about issues for them to participate in the process.
Now that the petition for a people's initiative to change the constitution has reached the Supreme Court, we are optimistic for a favorable decision, Mangaoang said. He believes that constitutional reforms remain an important factor in the country's quest to further boost economic growth.
Changing the constitution will benefit the country since it will get rid of the gridlock-prone political system that hampers the Philippines economic momentum. And since the matter is a process itself, we have to continue our advocacy for the people to fully understand the dire need for charter change, Mangaoang explained.
Meanwhile, Balbalan Municipal Comelec Registrar Rogelio Bagtang said his office strictly verified the authenticity of the signatures gathered in March. Fake ones were removed the reason why the number of gathered signatures went down by 17% compared to the verified and authenticated signatures, he said.
Comelec verified signatures in Kalinga endorsing charter change surpassed the 3% required by law. Of the total 102,820 registered voters (2004 data) in the province, 22,591 or 21% of the registered voters authenticated by Comelec favor the people's initiative option of changing the constitution. Thirty eight percent or 38,090 of the electorates actually signed the proposal, however, Comelec slashed 15,499 signatures either because they are fake, forged or thumbmarked by another. (PIA-Kalinga) [top]