By ROGER M. BALANZA
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is locking horns with President Rodrigo Duterte over a proposal to scrap the 2019 midterm elections.
Even as Duterte is strongly against it, Alvarez in an apparent act of defiance, is pushing through with his proposal to postpone next year’s polls.
Alvarez wants next year’s midterm elections reset reportedly to allow members of the House and the Senate to focus time and energy on crafting a new Constitution shifting form of governance from unitary to a federal system.
Duterte is not alone in opposing No-El (No election).
Senators said they would shoot down the Alvarez proposal to postpone the election that would also extend the terms of incumbent officials in violation of the Constitution.
Undaunted, Alvarez wants the Constitution amended without support of the Senate through a People’s Initiative.
Alvarez says constitutional amendments can be introduced without the participation of the Senate through the votes of three-fourths of the members of the House.
In the House of Representatives, an Alvarez deputy, Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, submitted the proposed House Bill No. 5724 amending Republic Act No. 6735 to allow people to directly amend the Constitution.
Under the law, the Constitution can be amended through a Constitutional Assembly (ConAss), Constitutional Convention (ConCon) or People’s Initiative (PI).
But the Supreme Court has ruled that RA 6735, or the Initiative and Referendum Act, is “inadequate to go over the system of initiatives to amend the Constitution.”
Abu urged his colleagues to support HB 5724 to pave the way for holding of the People’s Initiative and referundum.
Alvarez’s act of defiance against Duterte by continuing to push for postponement of the midterm elections and holding of People’s Initiative and Abu’s HB 5724 came as presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that Duterte is opposing and has no hand in the Alvarez proposal.
Roque said that Duterte even has urged allies to oppose the proposal.
To ensure that it is killed, Duterte has urged members of the ruling Partido ng Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) and other allies to rally against the Alvarez proposal, said Roque.
According to Roque, the 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 as saying 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.
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