The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has said the Covid-19 pandemic response is its priority, and called reports claiming that it aims to collect two million signatures to back amendments to the 1987 constitution “fake news.”

“There is news that DILG is gathering two million signatures. That is fake news. That is completely fake news and I don’t want people to pay attention to that. That is totally false and we have never done anything like that, especially in this time of crisis,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in an ABS-CBN News Channel interview.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer broke the news that the DILG, through its constitutional reform (CORE) project, had shifted to an online signature campaign to meet the two-million goal by July.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque on Monday also said that the signature campaign was “not really a priority,” but was continuing because “the mechanism is there.”

“They are not exerting any effort naman po para… any additional effort para isulong iyong charter change during this times of COVID-19. So, sa akin po, it’s always been a mandate of DILG. They should do it, otherwise makakasuhan naman sila ng dereliction, pero at the same time makikita naman po ninyo na talagang ang DILG ang primary attention nila nakatutok po dito sa COVID-19,” Roque added.

The PDI has responded to Año’s allegations in a statement, saying “there was nothing fake” with its report, citing two DILG memoranda both signed and issued by Interior spokesman Jonathan Malaya, who is also the undersecretary for plans, public affairs and communications. John Ezekiel J. Hirro