By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is eyeing the possibility of holding the plebiscite for the draft federal charter simultaneously with the May 2019 mid-term elections.
Pimentel, president of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) and ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, it is only practical for the government to hold the plebiscite during the scheduled electoral exercise next year.
“Just to be practical, ang iniisip kong timeline, isabay na natin yung plebisito to approve the Federal Constitution sa naka-schedule nang electoral exercise sa Mayo 2019, (I am thinking of a timeline where we can hold the plebiscite to approve the proposed Federal Constitution together with the scheduled electoral exercise on May 2019),” Pimentel said in a Radio DZBB interview.
“Mas practical para sa akin yun, pero depende yun sa bilis ng mga kilos (That is more practical for me, but it depends on the movement),” the former Senate president added.
But if ever the draft federal charter is ready by October or November 2018, Pimentel said it may also be possible that the plebiscite be held early in two or three months time.
“Pero ang pinaka-practical pa rin sa akin ay isabay sa May 2019 elections. Pero kung ma-delay naman, hindi rin natin mapipilit (That’s the most practical move for me, to hold it together with the May 2019 elections. But if it gets delay, we cannot insist on it),” Pimentel said.
The senator made the remark after the Consultative Committee (Con-com) tasked to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution approved the final draft of the proposed federal charter last week.
The draft would be submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte, who has since pushed for the Charter change that would pave way to the country’s shift to federal form of government.
The final draft is expected to be delivered to the President on July 9 or before he delivers his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.
As far as he is concerned, Pimentel said he believes that the approval of the draft charter is right on schedule.
“Mabuti mabilis ang trabaho nila (Con-com). After three to four months, meron na silang proposed draft (It’s a good thing they worked fast. After three to four months, they were ready with a proposed draft),” he said.
Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, in a statement, warned the people to be vigilant on the government’s Charter change move, as this could deprive the people’s right to choose their next leaders.
“Nangangamba ako na dahil sa Charter change na isinusulong ng pamahalaang ito, mawawala ang kapangyarihan ng mamamayan na pumili at magdesisyon. Boto na nga lang ang natitirang boses ng ilang Pilipinong hindi napakikinggan ng gobyerno, ipagkakait pa ito sa kanila (I’m concerned that because of the government’s efforts to pursue Charter change, the people’s right to vote and decide would be a thing of the past. Voting is the only avenue where some Filipinos can air their sentiments especially if the government does not even care to hear them),” he said.