The Philippines: House speaker amenable to scrapping mid-term elections amidst talk of shifting to federalism

  • A no-election scenario in 2019 is possible under a new Constitution shifting the nation to the federal system, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said in an interview on 3 Jan 18.
  • However, Malacañang stressed that the midterm elections would be held as scheduled unless Charter change pushes through and the rewritten Constitution is ratified.
  • Alvarez said that rewriting the Constitution to change the system of government “from unitary to federal” is the top priority of Congress in 2018.
  • He said the plan is for the House of Representatives and the Senate to convene as a constituent assembly later in Jan 18 to start working on the envisioned new Charter.
  • When asked if this could lead to a no-elections (no-el) scenario in 2019, Alvarez said, “I have to be frank, anything is possible. You know why? Let’s be practical. If you shift to a new system of government, you need a transition. You cannot implement it immediately after it is ratified.”
  • In his television interview, Alvarez said the constituent assembly should finish drafting the new Constitution before the barangay elections on 8 May 18 so that the plebiscite for its ratification by the people could be held together with such village vote.
  • He said the scrapping of 2019’s midterm polls could be part of the planned federal Charter’s transitory provisions.
  • He indicated that there could be a transition period of three years due to the staggered expiration of senators in 2019 and 2022. “In fairness, it might be better if we can have their term of office expire at the same time in 2022,” he said.
  • While Alvarez talked of a 3-year transition to the federal system, other House members are mulling over a 5-year term extension for lawmakers and 2 years for Duterte up to 2024.
  • Under this scenario, the elections in 2019 and in 2022 would be scrapped to give way to a five-year transition to the envisioned new system of government and a 5-year term of office for all elective officials. Thus, the first election under the planned new Charter would be held in 2024.
  • Alvarez seemed bullish over the prospects of federalism, particularly in Congress, despite the senators’ apparent silence and the short timetable they have.
  • The Speaker, who is also PDP-Laban secretary general, defended legislators from insinuations that they have “vested interest” in the shift to a new form of government, particularly given the promise of possible term extensions.
  • Citing deliberations at the House, Alvarez said there was “consensus” that under a new form of government, the Philippines will still elect a president who will be the head of state. The prime minister will be the head of government.

External Link : http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/01/04/1774487/speaker-alvarez-no-elections-possible-2019

External Link : https://www.rappler.com/nation/192794-cancel-2019-elections-federalism-conass-alvarez

4-Jan-2018


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