Alvarez backs ‘no-el’ in 2019 to make way for approval of federal constitution

Published July 11, 2018, 4:53 PM

by iManila Developer

By Ben Rosario

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is backing a “no election (no-el)” as an ideal scenario in 2019 if only to guarantee the approval of a well-studied federal constitution and a smooth transition towards a new charter.

MB File — Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez. (JOHN JEROME GANZON / Manila Bulletin)
Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez. (JOHN JEROME GANZON / Manila Bulletin File Photo)

In a media interview after receiving a copy of the proposed Charter drafted by the Consultative Committee (ConCom), Alvarez appeared cold to President Rodrigo Duterte’s insistence in leaving the presidency as soon as the nation’s Constitution is revised to give way to a federal form of government.

“I remember the president has a contract with the Filipino people for six years. Hindi ko pa alam iyong constitutionality kung puputulin mo iyong six years,” he said.

(I am not sure about the constitutionality of shortening reducing it to six years).

For his part Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas said: “We will respect his position and I hope he will respect ours also when the time comes.”

Alvarez and Farinas received from Concom chairman and retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno and other members of the body a copy of the 91-page draft charter entitled “Bayanihan Federalism: Power to the People, Power to the Regions.”

Asked about his view on the postponement of next year’s mid-term elections, Alvarez stated that such would be ideal in order to guarantee a well-studied Charter.

“Practically, yes [it] would be easier to the transition committee if there will be no 2019 elections,” said Alvarez.

He also pointed out that lawmakers require enough time to tackle the proposed Charter revision.

Alvarez noted that while the Lower House will be having its hands full with the budget deliberations and other priority legislation, its members have to prepare for their respective election bids in the last leg of the 17th Congress.

Attending to this hectic scheduled might be adverse to the bid to approve a new Charter.

“How are we gonna arrive at a quorum here? Of course, the congressmen have to start campaigning, that’s elections, it’s survival,” Alvarez said.

“How are we going to make the proposal to revise the Constitution? If we want to finish it, for me that’s what we should focus on, the timetable,” he asked.

Farinas also cited time constraints in the push for a new charter.

“We’ll have to work on it and then we’ll give you our timetable because, as of now, we haven’t read it yet, we have no idea what it looks like and how hard it will be,” he said.

The Ilocano solon said the draft Constitution will be considered by the Lower House as a proposal in the same manner that the other recommendations are being deliberated upon.

He explained that the Concom is a creation of Duterte, thus, its output will have to be given to him.

“Coming from the president, it carries weight. But Congress is not bound by that,” Farinas said.

The ConCom came up with the draft federal constitution after a four-month deliberation.

On the other hand, Congress has been studying amendments and a total revision of the 1987 Constitution for over 10 years.

Under the ConCom draft, 18 federated regions will be given more powers and will get a share of not less than 50 percent of all collected taxes. The draft constitution also states that the President and the Vice President shall be elected as a team.