Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Sunday that the call of local government leaders for constitutional reform, initiated by the allies of the Duterte administration, is meant to ensure a “no-el” or no-election scenario in the May 2022 national polls.
The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) has renewed its push for Charter change despite the prevailing COVID-19 crisis in the country.
“Sa akin, ang intention ay para hindi matuloy ang halalan sa 2022 at kung matuloy man, alisin ‘yung term limit. Hindi po tama iyan (I believe the intention is to ensure there would be no elections in the upcoming elections in 2022, and if it still happens, they want to remove term limit. That is not right),” Drilon said.
“Regardless kung kailan gagawin, hindi puwedeng ipagpaliban ang halalan sa 2022 o alisin ang term limit. Sa akin iyan ang purpose, Kahit sabihin nila na ito lang ang gagalawin, mali (Regardless of when they plan to do it, the 2022 elections cannot be deferred, nor can they remove their term limits. I believe that is the purpose, even if they say these are the only ones they will tinker, it’s wrong),” Drilon added.
Drilon refused to accept the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) argument they want to institutionalize the Mandanas decision of the Supreme Court which ruled that the source of Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for LGUs should be all national taxes and not only those collected from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in order to increase funds given to all regions.
“’Yung sinasabi nila na i-institutionalize ang Mandanas decion at alisin ang restriction on foreign ownership – unang-una, walang basehan iyan, dahilan sa maliwanag naman na institutionalize na ang Mandanas decision (They insist on institutionalizing the Mandanas decision and remove the restriction on foreign ownership – in the first place, that has no basis, because it is clear we have already institutionalized the Mandanas decision),” he said.
“At ‘yung pag-alis ng restriction sa foreign ownership ginagawa na iyan sa Senado (And the removal of foreign ownership restrictions is already being done by the Senate),” he added.
Though liberalizing foreign investments is a good objective, Drilon said senators are already doing their best in improving the country’s investment climate, since other countries in Southeast Asia, like Indonesia and Vietnam, are now faring better in terms of infrastructure and incentives.
“By law, sinisikap natin at ginagawa natin at nagawa na natin ng nakaraan na i-liberalize ang investment climate (We are trying and doing our best and we have already done something to liberalize our investment climate),” the Senate Minority Leader said.
But as of now, Drilon said he can only vouch that other lawmakers would be able to see through the Duterte administration’s maneuverings and block any attempts to railroad Charter change.
He also said he believes that this is also the primary reason why Duterte’s allies are moving to oust Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
“Handa kami sa Senado na lumaban dito; handa ako at handa kami sa minority na labanan ito (We in the Senate, are prepared to fight this: I am ready, the Minority Bloc is ready to fight this),” he said, noting Senate President Vicente Sotto III himself there is little chance that the measure would be passed by the Senate.