Alvarez floats people’s initiative for poll postponement
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is not backing down from his push for the cancellation of the 2019 midterm elections to facilitate the shift to a federal form of government despite the growing opposition and sentiment against it.
In a statement on Monday, Alvarez said if the Senate would not agree to the postponement of the 2019 elections, citizens supporting federalism can initiate a people’s initiative to amend the constitutional provision requiring elections every three years.
“That can be done; we have already studied that alternative,” Alvarez said.
Once the election is postponed, Alvarez said Congress can buckle down to the work of finalizing the draft of the proposed federal charter.
“It would be better if the Senate and the House can agree on this matter. But if not, I hope this would not happen, we can simply proceed with the task of deliberating on the draft through a constituent assembly (Con-ass), get the required three-fourths vote and then we submit it to the people for ratification through a referendum,” he also said.
The House leader pointed out that the 1987 Constitution does not require the House and the Senate to convene the Con-ass. He said it only requires 3/4 votes of all members of Congress, without specifically requiring separate voting, to approve the proposal.
Based on Alvarez’s estimate, Congress would need between six to eight months to complete the debate and deliberations on the proposed federal charter. Then, he said it would also require at least six months to conduct an information drive before the draft federal constitution could be presented to the people for ratification.
Alvarez said, based on such timetable, the first election under the federal form of government could take place by 2022.
However, Alvarez said that he and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas would still have to discuss the issue of including Charter change (Cha-cha) deliberations in the House agenda for the third regular session.
He also clarified that he has not discussed these options with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I assumed that our President would not want to intervene on this matter. But that (federalism) is his advocacy and I believe in that too. There are many congressmen too who support the idea,” he said.
The proposed Cha-cha being pushed by Duterte’s allies in Congress and by his Consultative Committee (Con-com) could pave the way to a shift to a federal form government – one of his campaign promises and an advocacy of his political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Alvarez, secretary-general of PDP-Laban, earlier floated that it would be practical to suspend the 2019 elections to facilitate the country’s possible shift to a federal form of government.
In Monday’s press release, Alvarez reiterated his stance.
He said if the administration is serious in pushing for charter change for a shift to a federal form of government, postponing the May 2019 mid-term elections is the most practical way of doing it.
“If we really want to amend the constitution, this (no elections) is the most practical way of doing it to achieve our goal,” the Duterte ally said. /je
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