The proposal of some lawmakers to extend their terms is an "indecent proposal," according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drion.
Boy Santos and Miguel De Guzman, File
Drilon: Term extension for solons 'indecent proposal'
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) - January 10, 2018 - 6:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon blasted on Wednesday lawmakers pushing for the extension of terms of senior government officials during the transition period to a federal government, labeling such move as an "indecent proposal."

Drilon said it seemed that it was the legislators who wanted a term extension and not President Rodrigo Duterte, who indicated that he was not interested in serving beyond his term as communicated by his spokesperson.

"At this point, the president is very clear that he does not want any extension of term. It is the congressmen, the speaker, who want an extension of the term. To me, I will repeat, this is an indecent proposal, because you're voting on something that will favor you," Drilon said.

Drilon said the postponement of elections in May 2019 and the extension of terms of lawmakers and executive officials might not be acceptable to the people.

The leader of the minority caucus in the Senate also stressed that the timetable of Congress in drafting the new Constitution and submitting it to the people for a plebiscite should be "realistic" after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that he was looking at holding such an exercise in May 2018.

"The timetable must be realistic. The speaker is talking about a plebiscite in May of 2018, that is four months away. Just looking at the situation because, right now, they are trying to impeach the chief justice," he said.

He also reiterated that the recent public criticisms of Alvarez of the Senate's supposed failure to pass legislative measures were meant to weaken the Senate as an institution and demean it in the eyes of the public to make it easier to abolish during efforts to change the charter.

Alvarez last week criticized the Senate for its supposed failure to act on measures passed by the House, labeling it the "slow chamber."

This prompted Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to push back and emphasize that the Senate was not a subordinate to the House and was not obligated to act on all measures passed by it.

The Senate will also not support voting jointly with the House during deliberations on changes to the Constitution considering the numerical superiority of the lower house, according to Drilon.

"Congress is composed of two houses. A simple law is passed by the action of two chambers. We don't have a unicameral legislature," Drilon, a former justice secretary, explained.

Changing the 1987 Constitution to pave the shift to a federal system of government is one of the priority measures of Duterte, who has insisted that such a set-up will help address many of the country's problems especially the unequal level of development between urban and rural areas.

Aside from the moves to become a federal government, the House is also tackling an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and will also discuss the Bangsamoro Basic Law which will carve an autonomous homeland for Muslims in Mindanao.

BANGSAMORO FRANKLIN DRILON PANTALEON ALVAREZ
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