Opposition lawmakers assail Alvarez’s ‘no-el’ remark
Opposition lawmakers assailed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s “no-election” remark, with one congressman saying that former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III was “toppled” from his post so the postponement of the 2019 polls could get past the Senate hurdle.
On Wednesday, Alvarez said it would be “practical” to postpone next year’s midterm elections for a smooth transition to a federal system of government.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat alleged that this was the primary reason why Senator Vicente Sotto III replaced Pimentel as Senate leader.
“Para (So) the heads of both chambers are OK with [the] no-el scenario,” Baguilat said in a statement.
He explained that although Pimentel was a proponent of federalism, he was “not a fan of the ‘no-el’ scenario.”
“He differed with Speaker Alvarez on the timetable, believing that Con-ass (Constituent assembly) discussions can finish before 2019 in time for a 2019 plebiscite concurrent with the elections,” the congressman said.
“Kaya he had to be ‘toppled’ [be]cause his position on the Cha-cha (Charter change) process and his leadership… will curtail ‘no-el’ in [the] Senate,” he continued.
Even Sotto earlier questioned Alvarez’s idea.
The Senate President said postponing next midterm elections is not as simple as Alvarez’s idea, noting that it is only possible if Congress “will be able to amend all pertinent laws mandating elections on the second Monday of May every three years.”
“The question is, are we willing to do that?” he added. But when pressed to answer his own question, he said: “Ask me another (question).”
Sotto took over the Pimentel’s post last May 21, after 15 senators signed a resolution calling for a reorganization of the Senate leadership.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, for his part, said Alvarez’s blunt proposal was “off tangent and misplaced.”
This assertion, he added, shows how detached the Duterte administration is to the real needs of the Filipino people.
“Right now, people’s priorities for government to do is to control inflation, increase wages, generate jobs, reduce poverty, fight graft and corruption, and stand up to China. Consistent survey results show that majority of Filipinos do not support Charter change or know about federalism,” Villarin said. /ee
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