By Vanne Terrazola
Filipinos will reject the “self-serving” proposal to extend the terms of lawmakers who are pushing for Charter change (Cha-cha), Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Tuesday.
In a radio interview, Sotto maintained that the Senate might only entertain propositions for amendment of the 1987 Constitution if these only involved economic provisions, and not the extension of the terms of office of politicians.
House Constitutional Amendments Committee chair and Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez was reported to be appealing to senators to be more open about Cha-cha since they would also stand to benefit from the resolution approved in a closed-door meeting last week.
Under the House panel’s proposal, the terms of local officials and congressmen would be increased from the current three to five years. Senators, meanwhile, shall serve for five years and will have a term limit of three terms, from the current two terms.
“Kung economic provisions lang ang tatargetin nila, may pag-asang mapag-usapan sa amin ‘yon. Pero pagka pinag-usapan mo kaagad yung term limits, with due respect to them, baka naman mag-aksaya tayo ng panahon kasi sa plebisito, iboboto ng tao ng ‘no’ ‘yan. Garantisado, magpa-survey ka. Tingnan mo, tanong mo sa taongbayan kung sino may gusto na baguhin ang term limits ng mga senador, congressmen. Self serving, eh,” Sotto told radio DZBB.
(If they would only target the economic provisions, there’s a chance that we would take up Cha-cha. But if you raise the extension of term limits, with due respect to them, we might only waste our time because people will vote ‘no’ on it in the plebiscite. I guarantee you, conduct surveys. Ask the public if they wanted to change the term limits of senators and congressmen. It’s self-serving.)
If they insist on the proposed term extension, Sotto said it would be better to amend the Charter through a constitutional convention, and not a constituent assembly (Con-ass) composed of legislators.
“Pwede nga ‘yon (Con-Ass) kung economic provisions lang ang pag-uusapan,” he said of the Lower Chamber’s plan to convene as a Con-Ass without the Senate.
“Pero kung hahaluan natin ng political kaagad, maraming matu-turnoff eh (If we included political matters, it would be a turnoff),” he reiterated.
Sotto had said that Cha-cha was not among the priorities of the Senate in the 18th Congress. But he said the Senate constitutional amendments and revision of codes committee will abide by procedures and look into the House resolution if transmitted to them.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday said the congressmen’s move for Cha-cha is “doomed.”
Other senators have also opposed the proposed term extension for local officials and lawmakers.