Congress has no time for Cha-cha – Macalintal

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Congress will not have enough time to act on proposals to amend the Constitution, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said on Sunday.

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He explained that lawmakers have only around 57 remaining session days until July next year because they conduct sessions only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier said he is open to a second term if that is what his “bosses” want. But for him to extend his term, Congress would have to introduce amendments through Charter change (Cha-cha.)

Macalintal said Congress will adjourn from September 27 to October 19, 2014 and resume session from October 20 to October 31. It will adjourn again from November 1 to November 16 to resume on November 17 to December 19. It adjourns again from December 20, 2014 to January 18, 2015 to resume session from January 19 to March 20, 2015. Upon the advent of the Holy Week, Congress will adjourn on March 21 to May 3, 2015 to resume May 4 to June 11, 2015. It adjourns sine die or for an indefinite period from June 12, 2015 to July 26, 2015.

“For sure, 57 days will not be enough to resolve all issues and debates pertaining to proposals to amend our Constitution. With the advent of the Christmas season, the most probable period that our legislators could meet will be for the January 19 to March 20, 2015 session days which is equivalent to around 24 session days only,” he said in a statement.

“If Congress would have the time and number to finalize the amendments by June 11, 2015, there would be no more time to prepare for the plebiscite for ratification. The Constitution requires a period of at least 90 days from finality of its amendments before holding such plebiscite. If amendments are approved in June 2015, the earliest date of plebiscite will be in September 2015,” Macalintal added.

He noted that by September next year, the Commission on Elections will be busy preparing for the 2016 elections.

“Political leaders would have already finalized their candidates from President to the last councilors since the filing of certificates of candidacy will start by October 2015. In a word, there will be no more time to pass upon the issue of whether . . . a President could still run for reelection,” he said.

The lawyer’s statements jibed with an earlier pronouncement of Senate President Franklin Drilon that there is no time to amend the Constitution.

Drilon said Charter change will derail lawmakers from acting on priority measures, such as the budget for 2015.

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