MALACANANG said on Wednesday that the midterm elections would push through in 2019 as scheduled unless the Constitution would be amended.
The Palace issued the statement through Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque who told a press conference:
“The President always looks to the Constitution as his guiding document. The Constitution sets the date for the next elections in 2019. So unless the Constitution is amended ahead of the 2019 elections, it will have to push through.”
“The Chief Executive, the role of the President is to implement the Constitution and the law. As I said, it is the Constitution that sets when the next election is. The law required of Congress for election purposes will only enable the spending of public funds in that regard,” he said.
In a television interview on early Wednesday, Alvarez said Congress could convene this January to tackle the proposed shift to a federal form of government and submit the issue to the public through a referendum in May to coincide with the planned barangay (village) elections.
While the Constitution was silent on how they should vote on Charter amendments, Alvarez said he believed that Congress should vote jointly.
“Anything is possible…Let’s be practical. Pag nag-shift ka into a different form of government, unitary to federal, you need a transition government,” Alvarez said in an interview over ANC’s morning show, “Headstart.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has been urging his allies in Congress to start working on changing the Philippines’ form of government as he considered his six-year term a “small window” where federalism could be pushed.
The President, however, said the “problem is I think the Filipinos are not yet ready for a federal type (of government). It doesn’t seem to ring a bell in the Visayas and Mindanao.”
The Philippines is currently under a presidential system with much of the power emerging from the central government.
Amid claims of his supposed strongman tendencies, Duterte repeatedly assured the public that he would not use the planned change to perpetuate himself in power.
The issue of amending the Constitution was a sensitive issue in the Philippines, which was once under the rule of the late president Ferdinand Marcos for two decades.
A move to amend the Charter during the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an ally of Duterte, was met with protests as concerns were raised about extending her term in office.