Lawmakers cannot guarantee that term limits will not be extended once Congress convenes as a Constituent Assembly (ConAss) to amend the 1987 Constitution.
Reps. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar, Rodito Albano of Isabela and Albee Benitez of Negros Occidental admitted that term limits could be tinkered with, but not necessarily for the benefit of sitting elective officials.
“If at all term limits will be lifted because three years is too short, it should not benefit us incumbent officials. It should take effect after our terms in 2019,” Evardone, a member of the Liberal Party, said in a text message.
A member of the House can only sit for three years and can be reelected in two succeeding elections, while a senator gets to serve for six years and is eligible for a reelection in one succeeding poll.
“It is really not acceptable if we lift our own term limits. I will oppose it,” Evardone said.
“There is always no guarantee on what is going to happen. It all boils down to trust,” Albano of the Nacionalista Party, said in a separate talk.
But for Benitez of PDP-Laban, the fate of the constitution’s term limits does not lie on the whims of the lawmakers but depends on the people.
“The public will have the final say if they really oppose term limits. We won’t propose something that would just lose come the plebiscite,” Benitez explained.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier said that restrictive term limits spawned political dynasties. He explained that people do not want their elected leaders replaced with strangers.
Fariñas also said Con-Ass should take precedence over the legislative mill and that lawmakers will have to go to work even on Thursdays and Fridays to amend the constitution.
Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur agreed with Fariñas’ proposal of scheduling additional working days.
“Instead of the current Monday to Wednesday work days, we might have to work Monday to Friday to cope with the additional work load. I’m sure the members of Congress will be up for the challenge as the majority of members see the urgency of the shift from the unitary to federal form of government,” Villafuerte said.
“The sooner we can implement the shift, the sooner we can attain lasting peace and sustainable development,” Villafuerte added.