With President Rodrigo Duterte and Senators strongly against it, the proposal by House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to postpone the 2019 mid-term election is practically dead in the water.
To ensure that it is killed, Duterte has even urged members of the ruling Partido ng Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) and other allies to rally against the Alvarez proposal, said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
According to Roque, the “No-El” (No Election) proposal is the sole initiative of Alvarez and the President will not have a hand in any move to cancel next year’s midterm elections.
President Duterte hopes that his allies will follow his position against No-El, said Roque.
“I will not have any hand in that,” Roque quoted Duterte when he asked the President about the Alvarez proposal.
“The President believes in democracy, he believes in elections, and he wants that the referendum on federalism be held simultaneously with the midterm elections,” Roque said at a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday, July 19.
Alvarez said postponing the mid-term election would allow Congress to focus on Charter Change.
Several Senators have already expressed opposition to the Alvarez proposal and said they would dismiss the proposal outright if brought to the Senate.
Unfazed Alvarez said No-El could be done through a People’s Initiative, through an amendment of the 1987 Constitution. He said the amendment to the 1987 Constitution could be done by the House even without the Senate.
The joke going around in Davao del Norte whose First District is represented in Congress by Alvarez, is that the Speaker wants to postpone the 2019 mid-term election because his reelection bid is facing a story weather.
Alvarez has committed political suicide by waging a war against the who-is-who in politics in banana country, including Governor Anthony del Rosario and 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo, Jr., who was among the biggest contributor (P70 million) to Duterte’s presidential campaign in 2016.
Alvarez also landed in the ‘hate list’ of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, for calling as an opposition party, the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional party she co-founded with the governors of the Davao Region. For that she called Alvarez an “asshole” and vowed to campaign against the reelection of the Speaker who, she adds, is a liability to the Duterte administration.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the majority of senators, even those running for re-election, will fight “tooth and nail” to block Alvarez’s proposal.
He slammed Alvarez’s argument that the House could amend the Constitution for the holding of the People’s Initiative even without the Senate.
Lacson said that any amendments to the 1987 Constitution, either by way of a constituent assembly, a constitutional convention or a people’s initiative, would require the Senate’s participation.
The majority of the senators, even those running for re-election, will fight tooth and nail any attempt to cancel the 2019 midterm elections simply because it is wrong and self-serving,” Lacson said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Alvarez’s can have his people’s initiative but said it was not going to be a real people’s initiative “but a Speaker’s initiative or political elite initiative.”
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero wondered why Alvarez is so obsessed to postpone the mid-term election.
“Quite frankly, I don’t know why he seems so obsessed with postponing the election when neither the people nor the Palace support such postponement,” Escudero said.
Escudero said the route to Alvarez’s people’s initiative is a long and tedious stretch.
Escudero explained that a people’s initiative must get the signatures of at least 12 percent of the total registered voters and each signature, he said, must be verified by the Commission on Elections before a referendum can be scheduled.
Escudero said the referendum could also be questioned before the courts “if it is indeed sufficient in form and substance.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Alvarez’s proposal is not only a waste of resources but would further divide the country into a “deeper political abyss.”
“The electoral process is a fundamental tenet of democracy. It’s the period when the electorate is empowered to choose their own leaders,” Gatchalian said.