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Charter change to lift term limits proposed

MANILA, Philippines — Four months before the 2022 national elections, a member of the Cusi wing of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has proposed that both houses of Congress convene into a constituent assembly to lift term limits in the Constitution.

Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., who filed the proposal on Jan. 7, wants to give the president a term of five years with one reelection, or a total of 10 years, instead of the present six years without reelection.

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“A six-year tenure is too short for a good president, especially if he is confronted with a crippling crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gonzales said.

But President Duterte will be banned from running for any elective post after his term.

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He also wants the vice president to have a term of five years with one reelection, adding that a vote for the president would be a vote for his vice presidential running mate.

“This would strengthen the political party system and ensure that the top two officials of the land are one in leading the nation,” he said.

5 years, 1 reelection

As for House members, Gonzales suggested that they would be elected for five years and limited to one reelection, instead of the present three years with two reelections.

Gonzales himself is on his second term as a Pampanga representative and is still eligible for one more term.

This will also be the case for governors or city or town mayors but his proposal will not affect senators and barangay officials.

In June last year, the House of Representatives adopted Resolution of both Houses No. 2 or the economic charter change (Cha-cha), amending restrictive economic provisions in the Constitution but the Senate has not acted on the resolution.

The Pampanga representative filed the resolution as senators questioned the motives of the PDP-Laban in asking the Commission on Elections to reopen the period for the filing of candidacies that ended on Oct. 8.

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Presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo Lacson and his running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III suggested that the move may be part of attempts to derail the May 9 elections and extend the terms of incumbent officials.

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“We are not trying to ascribe any ill motive to this petition, but let’s face it: there is the possibility. But this early, we are sending the message that the Senate will be ready to counter such a move,” Lacson said.

Sotto, on the other hand, gave the Cusi wing the benefit of the doubt and suggested that the party might be just aiming to field an official candidate.

“But there are also fears that reopening the filing of candidacies to all positions will create chaos, and cause delay,” he said.

Sotto and Lacson on Saturday bared senators’ plan to elect a new leader next month in a bid to thwart attempts to scuttle the May 9 elections.

By doing so, the Senate president elected in February will be constitutionally mandated to assume the presidency should the nation fail to elect a leader to replace President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo, whose terms also end on June 30. INQ

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TAGS: Charter change, constitutional amendments, term limits
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