2019 mid-term polls unlikely if federalism pushes through — Alvarez


THERE will be no need for mid-term elections in 2019 if there will be a shift to a federal form of government from the current presidential system — a priority measure for deliberation and approval at least at the House of Representatives in 2018, its leaders said on Wednesday.

“Anything is possible. You know why? Let’s be practical. If you shift into a different form of government – unitary to a federal – you need a transition government. You cannot approve [federalism]by May [of this year]and implement it immediately,” Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said in an interview on “Headstart” at the ANC news channel.

Alvarez said that the proposal could be presented in a plebiscite and if the public would agree, then a “no election” scenario in 2019 may be underway.

Expecting opposition from the Senate, Alvarez said it would be better if all senators would have their terms expired in 2022, instead of the usual three-year term so there would be “no debts.”

Alvarez said that the possible dissolution of the Senate was not an issue if the shift to federalism would push through.

“Let’s go back to the history of the Philippines. We are unicameral. What are [the senators]afraid of? [The senators] can still run, not necessarily in the Senate. They can run in any legislative branch in the new Constitution, they can even run for President, whatever,” Alvarez said.

At the same time, the Speaker allayed fears of “vested interest” for those who are pushing for federalism and said that the matter was “incidental.”

“What [is an election]for us, that is not a problem. If we have an election in 2019, that is not a problem. But we should see what is practical [in such case], what is our objective? We will shift into a federal form of government, the structure of the government will be shifted, we will have a state,” Alvarez said.

“[In such shift], we will elect a governor of the State and we will not know if the provinces, the municipalities, the cities will have the same set-up,” Alvarez said.

In a separate statement, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles said that the approval and shift to federalism was a priority for Congress in 2018.

Nograles said that those who voted for then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte during the May 2016 elections have given their stamp of approval to federalism, which is one of his campaign promises.

Nograles said the 1987 Constitution must first be reviewed for amendments that would allow for the establishment of autonomous federal states namely Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, NCR/Metro Manila, Bicol, Mimaropa, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and Bangsamoro.

Mimaropa is Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA



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