‘Cha-cha’ ad fund probe sought

‘Cha-cha’ ad fund probe sought

THE HOUSE minority bloc is calling for an investigation into a television advertisement advocating the amendment of the 1987 Constitution, aiming to determine whether or not government funds were utilized and if the campaign serves to peddle misleading partisan agenda.

“The public demands to know the source of funds of the paid advertisement and the overall “Cha-cha” (Charter change) campaign — public coffers or money from foreigners trying to change our Constitution for their interest,” the congressmen said in House Resolution No. 1541.

They said the probe must look into the intention of the advertisement, pointing out that it “misleadingly imputes that the Constitution is the cause of corruption and poverty in the country.”

The group People’s Initiative for Modernization and Reform Action (PIRMA) said public funds were not used in the television advertisement, noting that its funding came from the Gana, Atienza, Avisado Law Offices.

The advertisement used the catchphrase “EDSA-pwera” and alleged that farmers, students, and local businesses are disadvantaged by the Charter, which was ratified following the EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted former president Ferdinand E. Marcos, father and namesake of the current Chief Executive.

House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, a cousin of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., has revived calls to amend the Constitution to ease economic woes.

But according to the resolution of the minority bloc, an alleged signature campaign in exchange of aid and gifts has been making the rounds of certain villages and towns in Luzon.

“Such corrupt practice of taking advantage of poverty tramples the genuine essence of “people’s initiative,” it said.

Last week, Senator Maria Imelda “Imee” R. Marcos said that up to P20 million was offered to districts in several provinces that could deliver 20,000 signatures in favor of “Cha-cha.”

Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman also said that P100 was allegedly given to voters who would sign a petition in favor of “Cha cha” through a people’s initiative.

“This is a very organized and well-funded campaign,” Bayan Muna Chairman Neri J. Colmenares told a forum.

“You cannot use public funds for a people’s initiative…because [it] is a private initiative,” he said, claiming that government funds were allegedly being used in the signature campaigns. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz