SENATE Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday bared alleged moves by administration lawmakers to railroad Charter change (Cha-cha) by postponing the May 2018 barangay (village) elections and hold it on a later date simultaneously with the plebiscite on proposed amendments.
According to Drilon, the planned railroading is linked to the objective of some members of the House of Representatives who are already on their last term in Congress to extend their stay by canceling the 2019 mid-term elections.
“There are about 80 congressmen who are on their 3rd term and would benefit from the move,” he said in a radio interview aired over dzBB. “In order for them to have term extension, Cha-cha should be ratified before May 2019.”
The minority leader added that the administration lawmakers knew that the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution would not be ready for plebiscite by May 2018 and that is why they wanted to postpone the elections either by October or November.
The Consultative Committee, which was tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte, to study amendments to the 1987 Constitution plans to submit its study to the President by July in time for his 3rd State of the Nation Address.
Drilon said after the submission of the report, the so-called super majority in the House would then railroad Cha-cha and have it submitted for the plebiscite on October or November.
“Masama ito sa ating demokrasya, hindi pwedeng madaliin ang pagbabago sa Konstitusyon [This is bad for our democracy, Charter change should not be rushed],” according to the minority leader.
When sked if the move to postpone the barangay elections had the blessing of the President, Drilon said he has no idea because he only got the information from two sources who told him that local chief executives would be the ones that would push for the postponement.
He added tha the Senate Committee Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes would not allow any move to railroad Cha-cha especially if the intension is to allow some incumbent lawmakers to extend their term.
The Senate committee, Drilon said, would continue to conduct regional consultative hearings and would be in Cebu on Wednesday to discuss the proposed constitutional amendments with local officials and other stakeholders in the area.
He expressed confidence that his colleagues in the Senate would not support another postponement of the village elections especially if its main intention is to pave the way for the term extension of incumbent congressmen.
Some members of the Senate majority bloc said they have not heard of such plot and would not support moves to postpone the May 2018 barangay polls if there are any.
Sen. Francis Escudero said he is not in favor of postponing such elections any further if the only reason is to wait for their supposed attempt to amend the Constitution.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he would not support another postponement of the village polls “especially if the sole purpose is to accommodate a plebiscite for Charter change.”
According to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd, he would be the first to know if there was indeed such plan to railroad proposed amendment to the Constitution.
Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara expressed belief that members of the chamber would not support any proposal to further postpone the May 2018 village polls because senators were very firm on their position when they approved the postponement in 2017 that it would be the last.
The Senate voted 17-1 in Septemebr 2017 approving Senate Bill 1584 calling for the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or Youth Council) elections to May 2018.
“From the debates on the last postponement of the barangay elections, it seemed many senators were quite resolute that it would be the last as far as the Senate was concerned,” Angara said.
If there is a plan to postpone the village polls, a proposal calling for such must be filed and approved by both Houses of Congress before they adjourn on March 24.